No Immediate Cuts in State Aid to Schools in Murphy’s Revised 2020 Spending Plan

JOHN MOONEY | MAY 26, 2020 

NJ Spotlight

Gov. Phil Murphy at a coronavirus briefing, May 22, 2020

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As he scrambles to close a multibillion-dollar budget hole, Gov. Phil Murphy will likely face little choice but to take a sizable sum out of New Jersey’s public schools, which represents the single largest slice of state spending.

But at least for now, schools have been left largely spared.

On Friday, the Murphy administration presented its revisions to the fiscal 2020 budget in the face of COVID-19, announcing more than $5 billion in overall cuts and deferrals across state government.

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Trump’s attempted murder of the U.S. Postal Service | Editorial

Posted May 25, 2020

Donald Trump has a pathological fear of the public will being expressed through the right to vote, so he believes he must sabotage the process any way that he can.

The re-election strategy he now pursues with alarming gusto is the destruction of the US Postal Service, which Congress must not allow, because an efficient postal system should be regarded as a voting rights issue — especially during a year when voting in public could get you killed.

The USPS has always been essential to elections. It delivers mail-in ballots to homes in 34 states if the voter requests one, including five states that use exclusive, all-mail models with remarkable success. It delivers ballots to service members and others abroad who couldn’t vote otherwise. It is the brick-and-mortar portal where people drop off their ballots to be delivered to the registrar. It even educates voters by sending them sample ballots weeks before Election Day.

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NJ’s COVID-19 Release Program for Prisoners Is Slammed for Major Failings

COLLEEN O'DEA | MAY 26, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Prison wall

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Attorneys working to free vulnerable prisoners under New Jersey’s COVID-19 inmate release program are slamming it for being overly complex and secretive, and in court papers have called the process “too little, too late.”

The disease caused by the novel coronavirus has already killed 43 inmates in the state prison system, making New Jersey the state with the highest inmate death rate in the nation, according to a review by the Marshall Project. The number testing positive for COVID-19 was 970 as of last Friday — and is continuing to climb as the Department of Corrections (DOC) ramps up its testing of inmates.

Meanwhile, it is virtually impossible to know exactly how many prisoners have been temporarily released.

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New Jersey governor warns of major cuts to teachers, firefighters, police officers and health care workers without more federal funding

Sun May 24, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy

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Washington (CNN)New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Sunday warned that key employees -- including health care workers, firefighters, police officers and teachers -- could be laid off if the state does not receive additional funding from the federal government.

The dire prediction from Murphy reflects what many governors across the country fear as states grapple with budget shortfalls from the economic calamity brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The Democrat and other governors have called for additional federal assistance while the White House is reluctant to provide additional funds to states. On Friday, Murphy announced the state is estimated to have a revenue loss of $10 billion.
White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on Sunday said in an earlier interview with CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" there should be a data analysis on state budget shortfalls and that some state's requests are "radically more money than the expected shortfall for the year."
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Two N.J. congressmen who placed patriotism above politics

By David WildsteinMay 25 2020

New Jersey Globe

Former Congressman Albert Vreeland (R-East Orange) while serving in the U.S. Army during World War II.

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Most people in New Jersey politics today probably never heard of Albert Vreeland or Frank Osmers, two young New Jersey Congressmen who placed patriotism above politics and the security of our nation ahead of their own political careers.

Vreeland first demonstrated his commitment to public service as a 17-year-old, driving an ambulance for the American Red Cross during World War I. He became active in local politics in East Orange (a Republican stronghold eighty years ago) and served as an Assistant City Attorney, Municipal Prosecutor, and at age 33 a Municipal Court Judge. In 1938, at age 37, Vreeland won election to Congress, unseating freshman Rep. Edward O’Neill.

Osmers was a rising star in Bergen County politics. He was elected Borough Councilman in Haworth at age 23, Mayor at age 27, and State Assemblyman at age 28. In 1938, at age 31, he was elected to Congress, winning the open seat of Edward Kenny, a Congressman who died earlier that year.

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Van Drew got just a prominent role in Trump’s re-election campaign

Posted May 23, 2020

President Donald Trump came to Wildwood in January and boosted party-switching Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s re-election chances.

Now Van Drew will try to help the president win a second term.

The first-term lawmaker became one of 22 House Republicans who will help raise money for the president’s re-election and the Republican National Committee. He is the only one from New Jersey and comes from a district that supported Trump four years earlier.

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How this child from New Jersey has morphed into the Trump Family’s Rasputin

Posted May 23, 2020

By Alan Steinberg

White House adviser Jared Kushner went to school in Paramus, was admitted without merit to Harvard, failed at real estate and we're now experiencing his incompetence in the White House, says Alan Steinberg, a former aid to President George W. Bush.

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When I watch Jared Kushner speak on television, I am immediately reminded of Little Lord Fauntleroy - a person who is spoiled, conceited, and characterized by a pompous air of decadence, intellectualism, and moral superiority. Little Lord Fauntleroy was the major character in a novel of the same name by the British author, Frances Hodgson Burnett, published in 1886.

As Washington Post columnist Max Boot points out, Kushner is the type of rich, privileged person who former University of Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys football coach Barry Switzer described as “born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.” His sense of unwarranted hubris was enhanced by his unmerited admission to Harvard.

Jared attended high school at The Frisch School in Paramus where he was a less than stellar student. A former official at the Frisch School told renowned journalist and author Daniel Goldman, “There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard. His GPA did not warrant it; his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.”

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Trump deems churches ‘essential’ and calls for them to reopen. Murphy says N.J. church services will remain limited.

Posted May 22, 2020

President Donald Trump announced Friday he has deemed churches and other houses of worship essential in the United States and is calling on governors across the country to allow them to reopen this weekend despite the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s office told NJ Advance Media that church services in New Jersey will remain limited despite the president’s call, though Murphy and Trump had a “productive” talk about the issue Friday.

Trump, a Republican, made his announcement during a hastily arranged press conference at the White House, where he didn’t take questions.

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As N.J. city battles coronavirus, it’s still fixing last year’s lead crisis

Posted May 22, 2020

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Newark is continuing its aggressive plan to replace the thousands of lead pipes that helped prompt a crisis in the city that garnered national attention and concern last summer.

As of Thursday, Newark has replaced 10,862 lead service lines — the garden-hose sized pipes connecting individual properties to water mains. That’s over half of the 18,000 total lines that the city plans to replace, work that city officials expect will address the lead problem.

The city’s water department first exceeded the federal lead standards for water in the first half of 2017. The water system was found to have high lead levels through the second half of 2019, marking six consecutive six-month monitoring periods with elevated lead levels.

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Saying They’ve Been Ignored, Nursing Homes Lay Claim to Latest Federal COVID-19 Funding

LILO H. STAINTON | MAY 22, 2020 

NJ Spotlight

Patients from St. Joseph’s Senior Home in Woodbridge were evacuated March 25 after multiple residents contracted COVID-19 and some died.

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New Jersey has received nearly $200 million in additional federal Medicaid funding that it intends to use to offset the state’s share of rising program costs related to the coronavirus, the first in what could be multiple enhanced payments under the public-health crisis.

But some in the nursing-home industry, which depends heavily on Medicaid funding, would like to see the coronavirus increase passed on to the facilities that actually provide these services — something they said has been done in other states, including Connecticut and Rhode Island. Other states, like Massachusetts, have provided block grants to nursing homes, according to LeadingAge, a national-nursing home advocate.

According to the Department of Human Services, the $197 million delivered in late March is based on estimated spending for the first three months of 2020. Another slug of federal funds is anticipated in the months to come. The money comes the first relief package, adopted earlier that month, which increased the federal contribution by 6.2% for many costs associated with the Medicaid program, retroactive to January 1.

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