Testa and Company go for Broke on Murphy’s Borrowing Plan

By Fred Snowflack | August 6, 2020

Insider NJ

 

Republican state Sen. Mike Testa was on a roll, condemning Phil Murphy’s nearly $10 billion borrowing plan for skirting voter approval, improperly treating borrowed funds as real revenue and not precisely saying how the money would be spent.

But then he was stopped by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner.

“In February, one could not foresee the consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic,” Rabner said during Wednesday’s New Jersey Supreme Court hearing via Zoom.

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Landlords Fear Coronavirus Relief for Renters Will Hurt Them

JON HURDLE | AUGUST 7, 2020

NJ  Spotlight

File photo: Boston, June 27, 2020, protesters rally for protection from evictions. Massachusetts’ tenant eviction moratorium is slated to expire in mid-August.

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New Jersey’s landlords say they are already seeing sharply lower rental income because of an executive order that prevents evictions and foreclosures during the coronavirus pandemic, and they fear more financial damage if a bill to extend those protections becomes law.

Representatives of large and small landlords attacked a bill, A-4034/S-2340, as a one-sided attempt to give renters and mortgage borrowers an extended time to pay without the threat of eviction if they have lost their jobs because of the public health crisis. They said the measure gives too little weight to the concerns of landlords, who are bearing many of the financial costs.

The bill’s sponsors say the measure is essential to prevent a wave of homelessness at a time when the state’s unemployment has surged to some 16% of the workforce, or about five times what it was before the pandemic shut down many businesses.

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New Jersey Schools Reopen: Pressure Mounts for Delayed Start

JOHN MOONEY | AUGUST 7, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Coronavirus and schools

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A month out from Labor Day, pressure is mounting for a remote-only opening for New Jersey public schools.

The state’s principals and supervisors association on Thursday made a public appeal, including an NJ Spotlight op-ed, for Gov. Phil Murphy to call for virtual-only instruction to start the year.

“Beginning the school year with statewide remote learning recognizes the critical fact that we simply cannot safeguard our students, our staff and our communities from this highly contagious and lethal virus without the necessary tools to do so,” wrote Patricia Wright, executive director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association.

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Trump’s cuts in funding for National Guard deployment may cost N.J. $3.5M

Posted Aug 06, 2020

President Donald Trump has decided to stop paying the full cost of deploying New Jersey National Guard troops to help fight the coronavirus, a move that could add $3.5 million to the cash-strapped state’s pandemic bill.

The president said he would continue to allow federal funds to be spent on National Guard troops through the end of the year, but require most states, including New Jersey, to shoulder 25% of the cost after Aug. 21, his original date for ending the deployment.

The White House decision adds another cost to a state already planning to borrow to pay its bills as the coronavirus-caused recession sapped tax collections, and seeking billions of dollars in additional federal aid to make up the loss in revenues.

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Trump’s Bank Was Subpoenaed by N.Y. Prosecutors in Criminal Inquiry

By David Enrich, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum and 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Aug. 5, 2020

President Trump has been locked in a yearlong battle with the Manhattan district attorney over releasing his tax records to criminal investigators.

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The New York prosecutors who are seeking President Trump’s tax records have also subpoenaed his longtime lender, a sign that their criminal investigation into Mr. Trump’s business practices is more wide-ranging than previously known.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office issued the subpoena last year to Deutsche Bank, which has been Mr. Trump’s primary lender since the late 1990s, seeking financial records that he and his company provided to the bank, according to four people familiar with the inquiry.

The criminal investigation initially appeared to be focused on hush-money payments made in 2016 to two women who have said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

But in a court filing this week, prosecutors with the district attorney’s office cited “public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization” and suggested that they were also investigating possible crimes involving bank and insurance fraud.

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NJ Colleges Ready to Reopen Online While Some Students Fight for Tuition Breaks

SHEILA NOONAN | AUGUST 6, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Remote instruction will be the most likely educational delivery mode this fall for many students.

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The fall college semester is only a few weeks away, and the question of whether full tuition is fair tuition during the pandemic is taking on increasing urgency.

New Jersey’s Stage 2 restart status sharply limits in-person instruction and residential living and, barring a drop in coronavirus cases and entry into Stage 3, remote instruction will be the most likely educational delivery mode this fall for many students. In New Jersey and across the nation, students and parents are filing class-action lawsuits, launching online petitions and publicizing their outrage over paying the same price for remote instruction as for in-person education.

Rider University students are among the most recent to amplify concerns that have existed since mid-March, when they returned home for online instruction. They might be staying home again, at least for a time. In an Aug. 3 email to students, Rider president Gregory G. Dell’Omo said if the state hasn’t announced plans to move to Stage 3 by the end of next week, the semester will begin with fully remote instruction. He also told them fall semester bills are on the way, with payment due by Aug. 26.

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Supreme Court Arguments over NJ’s New $9.9B Borrowing Law Focus on What’s a Real Emergency

COLLEEN O'DEA | AUGUST 6, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Republican Sen. Michael Testa, top row, center, argues in remote session before the state Supreme Court that the multibillion-dollar borrowing by the Murphy administration would be unconstitutional.

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Arguments before the New Jersey Supreme Court Wednesday over Gov. Phil Murphy’s $9.9 billion borrowing authority focused on three key questions: Can the money be used for general spending not directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, what constitutes an emergency for which the state can borrow money without voter approval and are there any limits on what the state can pay for.

Similar borrowing during both the Civil War and the Great Depression figured prominently in the discussions among the justices and attorneys representing the state and Republicans who challenged the law Murphy signed three weeks ago. That gave the state the ability to sell bonds to offset revenue losses due to the emergency caused by the novel coronavirus without getting approval from voters in a ballot question.

Normally, such a challenge could take years to wind its way through the courts, but Chief Justice Stuart Rabner took the case directly to expedite it given the pressing financial situation the state is in: Assistant Attorney General Jean Reilly told the court that the initial estimated revenue shortfall of $9.9 billion through June 30, 2021 has brightened only a bit with the last report of sales tax receipts and is now projected to be $9.2 billion. The state Constitution requires that New Jersey’s budgets be balanced.

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All teachers must get COVID tests before returning to school, N.J.’s largest school district says

Posted Aug 04, 2020

All Newark public school teachers and other school employees will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before they return for the new school year “for the safety of our school community,” according to the district’s reopening plan.

Thousands of teachers and district employees at more than 60 Newark schools will need to be tested no earlier than 14 days before they return to work in early September to prepare for the start of classes on Sept. 8., the preliminary plan says.

The 40,000-student public school district is also considering asking students to get tested.

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Mayor Baraka: I strongly oppose the ‘merger’ of NJ Medical School, RWJ Medical School | Opinion

Posted Aug 04, 2020

By Ras Baraka

 

Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, located in New Brunswick, and the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS), located in Newark, plan to become a single medical school. It is insultingly and dishonestly being referred to as a merger by the few that support it.

I strongly and wholeheartedly oppose what is only an unregulated and premeditated takeover that will leave Newark residents without critical resources. In a time where data clearly points to greater health disparities of people of color and those who live in urban areas, this proposed takeover is one of the ways that systemic racism rears its ugly head.

This proposed takeover would not only have significant and detrimental impacts on University Hospital, which would most definitely distress Newark residents but specifically our most vulnerable populations. It violates the Newark Agreements of 1968 and places the needs of the community of Newark and the greater Essex County region at risk of losing resources and services that can only lead to greater healthcare disparities.

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D.A. Is Investigating Trump and His Company Over Fraud, Filing Suggests

By William K. Rashbaum and 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Aug. 3, 2020

President Trump has asked a federal judge to invalidate a subpoena asking for eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns. Credit...

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The Manhattan district attorney’s office suggested on Monday that it had been investigating President Trump and his company for possible bank and insurance fraud, a significantly broader inquiry than the prosecutors have acknowledged in the past.

The suggestion by the office of the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., came in a new federal court filing arguing that Mr. Trump’s accountants should have to comply with a grand jury subpoena seeking eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns. Mr. Trump has asked a judge to declare the subpoena invalid.

Until now, the district attorney’s inquiry had appeared largely focused on hush-money payments made in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

In the new filing, the prosecutors did not explicitly identify the matters under scrutiny in the grand jury inquiry, which by law is conducted in secret. But they said that “undisputed” assertions in earlier court papers and several news reports about Mr. Trump’s business practices showed that the office had a wide legal basis for the subpoena.

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