$15 minimum wage is now coming to New Jersey! Murphy signs new law to cheers from workers, jeers from businesses.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday signed landmark legislation raising the minimum wage in New Jersey to $15 an hour by 2024, capping Democrats' years-long effort to improve wages for the state’s lowest-paid workers.

The law will gradually lift the minimum wage to $15 over five years, with the first pay hike from $8.85 to $10 scheduled to take effect in just five months, on July 1.

New Jersey is the fourth U.S. state to place its minimum wage on a path to $15.

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Trump’s crucible: When the national emergency is between a president’s ears | Editorial

There is a security crisis at the border that only Donald Trump can see. While everyone else is focused on the quiet catastrophes – the hordes of desperate people, the inhumanity of family separation, the processing fiasco — he only sees drug superhighways, killer gang members, and women bound in duct tape.

His pursuit of border wall funding with fear-mongering mendacity has twice been rejected, first during the midterm election by voters, then in the showdown over the government shutdown, when he was schooled in the art of the deal by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

So two weeks away from another possible government shutdown, the president is thinking about circumventing the process by declaring a national emergency.

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SURPRISE, ANGER OVER GOVERNOR’S VETO ON EMERGENCY AID

 | FEBRUARY 1, 2019

NJ Spotlight

On a day when temperatures dipped below zero in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed a bill providing additional emergency aid for some public-assistance recipients in danger of becoming homeless, a move that was both unexpected and served to further aggravate his feud with Sen. President Steve Sweeney.

The absolute veto of S-1965, which Murphy based on concerns about state budget revenues, was surprising for a governor who espouses progressive values and had enacted a similar safety-net measure at the end of last year. It also disappointed advocates and angered Sweeney (D-Gloucester), the bill’s primary sponsor.

“I’m very upset about what he did,” said Sweeney, who accused Murphy of putting out “false numbers to justify an absolute veto of the bill, on the coldest day of the year.” Sweeney said the purpose of the bill is “trying to keep people in their houses.”

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It’s official! N.J. Sen. Cory Booker says he’s running for president in 2020

Posted February 1, 2019

By Jonathan D. Salant | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

WASHINGTON  Cory Booker is running for president.

The Democratic senator from New Jersey made the announcement at 7 a.m. Friday in a tweet, email and video.

“Together, America, we will rise," Booker said in the video, reprising the theme of his 2016 Democratic National Convention address in Philadelphia that brought the delegates to their feet.

“I believe that we can build a country where no one is forgotten, no one is left behind; where parents can put food on the table; where there are good paying jobs with good benefits in every neighborhood; where our criminal justice system keeps us safe, instead of shuffling more children into cages and coffins; where we see the faces of our leaders on television and feel pride, not shame,” he said in the video.

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LAWMAKERS MULL ‘UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES’ OF MINIMUM WAGE HIKE

COLLEEN O'DEA | JANUARY 30, 2019

NJ Spotlight

New Jersey Democrats’ push to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2024could wind up hurting some of the people they are trying to help if boosting salaries makes workers too well off to receive free or subsidized services such as child care and preschool.

Lawmakers say they are working to prevent such unintended consequences, including the effect on some of the 15,000 children who are living in poverty and receive services under the federal Head Start program. They say they are also aware that there could be other programs where a higher minimum wage might disqualify a family.

“We are going to pay attention to it to make sure we are not going to hurt the same people we are trying to help,” said Sen. President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and the sponsor of S-1, the minimum-wage increase bill. “As the increases take effect, we must be sensitive to the impact it will have on working people who are below the ‘safety net’ and could be at risk of losing benefits as their wages increase. We don’t want to see them harmed by lost benefits as they gain in wages.”

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A RIVER OF CASH: ANALYZING NJ’S MULTIBILLION-DOLLAR REVENUE STREAMS

JOHN REITMEYER | JANUARY 30, 2019

NJ Spotlight

After analyzing the budgets of over 1,000 government agencies, a right-leaning think tank found that governments in New Jersey are raising more than $86 billion annually from taxes, fees and other revenues. That number does not include federal funds or the revenues of authorities and independent bistate agencies like the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (which alone has annual operating expenses of $3.3 billion) or the Delaware River Port Authority ($301 million).

The report, “Adding it All Up” by the Garden State Initiative, was a difficult endeavor. The decentralized governing structure of the state — with its hundreds of governments, municipalities and authorities — makes it virtually impossible for residents to get a sense of exactly how much the system costs to run on an annual basis. GSI had to analyze the budgets of numerous agencies, ranging from state and county all the way down to local sewerage authorities.

The total haul soars to well over $100 billion after funds provided by the federal government are added in. And it tops out at $121 billion once investment gains by the public-worker pension funds and revenue from all authorities that operate in New Jersey, including bistate entities like the Port Authority, are factored in.

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Chris Christie unleashed! Ex gov fires back at Jersey foes and dishes on Trump in new book

Posted January 29, 2019 

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NJ POLITICOS GET EYEFUL OF DECAY IN HUDSON TUNNEL TOUR, WANT FEDERAL FUNDING

JOHN REITMEYER | JANUARY 29, 2019

NJ Spotlight

Gov. Phil Murphy and a federal delegation toured the North River Tunnel on Monday, January 28, 2019.

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Gov. Phil Murphy stood alongside his new ally in the fight to build the proposed Gateway tunnel under the Hudson River — a nearly all-Democratic state congressional delegation that is promising to push hard to deliver the federal funds needed to make a new tunnel a reality.

During an event yesterday that in many ways was a show of force by the state’s most powerful Democrats, Murphy and congressional leaders toured the 108-year-old tunnel that is used to connect New Jersey with New York for some 200,000 daily riders.

The officials emerged from the tunnel — which was heavily damaged by 2012’s superstorm Sandy and is often the source of frustrating delays for commuters — using words like “alarming” and “ticking time bomb” to describe what they saw. They also renewed calls for the significant federal infrastructure funding that for now remains on the sidelines, thanks to the administration of President Donald Trump.

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With 1.5M people affected by lead water woes, N.J. asks Washington for help

Posted Jan 24, 2019

State leaders are turning to the federal government for help to replace the decades-old lead pipes and plumbing fixtures that deliver water to more than 1.5 million New Jerseyans.

In his State of the State address earlier this month, Murphy called the outdated infrastructure a national problem that requires a federal solution. The governor promised to work with New Jersey’s congressional delegation to find more federal funding for the Garden State’s water problems.

“More than 1.5 million residents — north, central, and south, rural and urban — are currently serviced by water with elevated lead levels," Murphy said. "We must leverage every opportunity to build a modern water infrastructure network that ensures the delivery of clean water to every child, and every family.”

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‘ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE’ PROTECTION FOR POOR COMMUNITIES APPROVED

TOM JOHNSON | JANUARY 25, 2019

NJ Spotlight

The Covanta incinerator in Newark’s Ironbound district

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Legislators yesterday voted to give so-called “environmental justice” communities more say in blocking new and expanded projects that could increase pollution in their neighborhoods.

The legislation (S-1700), approved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, marks the most significant step the state has taken to address the disproportionate impacts of pollution and contamination in poor urban communities, according to advocates.

“Environmental injustice is unacceptable and this bill is the first really significant bill to address the lack of environmental equity in communities of color and to give the state the power it needs to stop it,’’ said Kim Gaddy, a Newark resident and an organizer for Clean Water Action.

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