Hey, Jersey, don't move to Fla. to avoid high taxes, come to Texas. Love, Gov. Abbott | Opinion

By Greg Abbott

Posted Apr 17, 2018

When Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled his budget proposal in early March, it left people throughout New Jersey shaking their heads in frustration--and for good reason.

Under his plan, Gov. Murphy is calling for a $2.7 billion increase in the state's previous budget, the majority of which will be funded by higher taxes. These tax hikes include raising the sales tax and applying that tax to everything from ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft to online room booking. It also includes raising income taxes on anyone making more than $1 million.

This tax hike would only exacerbate the economic woes for a state whose tax burden and cost of living are already among the highest in the nation.

That's why I'd like to throw a lifeline to businesses and families throughout New Jersey who are looking for greater economic opportunity and relief from high taxes. Come to Texas and be a part of our economic success story.

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STUDENTS’ LIVES ARE PRICELESS, BUT SCHOOL SECURITY CAN BREAK THE BUDGET

CARLY SITRIN | APRIL 17, 2018

NJ Spotlight

Jill Marino is scared for her son Jaxson’s life. The second-grader attends school at Parkview Elementary in Westville and with the nearly weekly reports of school shootings unfolding across the country, Marino says she will do whatever it takes to make sure Jaxson comes home safe every day.

“When Sandy Hook happened, I lost all of the oxygen in my lungs for days,” Marino said, referring to the 2012 elementary school shooting. After the tragedy at Parkland, FL, in February, she set up a Facebook group for New Jersey parentsconcerned about school safety to talk about what they can do to protect their kids. “All of us are trying to be involved and make sure none of this ever happens again anywhere. But statistics are not on our side,” she added.

With concern over school safety growing, the Legislature just added an additional $500 million to a proposed bond issue for vo-tech and community colleges. The bond — now totaling $1 billion — is expected to be on the November ballot. It will set aside $500 million for school security upgrades at K-12 buildings. The bipartisan legislation calls on acting Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet to develop procedures, project plans, and criteria for school security grants, without requiring the schools to match funds. This additional funding could go a long way to help schools upgrade their security systems.

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ICE MOVES TO DEPORT EGYPTIAN DISSIDENT WHO SAYS HE FACES HANGING BACK HOME

MATT KATZ | WNYC NEWS | APRIL 16, 2018

NJ Spotlight

Ahmed Abdelbasit posed with one of his students from Rising Star Academy, Yusef Haddabah, who is trying to prevent his deportation.

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A New Jersey physics teacher who says he faces death by hanging in Egypt because he's a pro-democracy dissident is being held at an immigration detention center in New Jersey and may soon be deported.

"If they send me back to Egypt they will kill me, and I will not see my wife and children again," said Ahmed Abdelbasit Mohammad, who goes by Ahmed Abdelbasit, in a scratchy phone interview on Sunday from Elizabeth Contract Detention Center. The 33-year-old father of three said that he was sentenced to death in absentia in Egypt, so if he's deported he will be taken from the airport, tortured and then hanged. "The Egyptian government will not wait one minute to kill me," he said.

Abdelbasit was a physics professor and doctoral candidate at the University of Cairo, but he was fired in 2014 after working as an organizer and spokesperson for protesters who opposed the military coup that led to the election of the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

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After wrongful convictions, a cry for reform from Murphy's AG | Editorial

After filing a flood of lawsuits against the Trump administration and seeking to improve police transparency, Phil Murphy's Attorney General is narrowing his eye for justice on a badly bungled murder case in Passaic county. 
 
Gurbir Grewal this week vowed to do what Chris Christie's AG and a local prosecutor would not: investigate how two innocent men spent nearly 25 years in prison for the killing of a Paterson store clerk, while the most likely murder suspect still walks free.
 
He also wants to prevent this kind of mistake from ever happening again, and is asking outside experts for help.

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New Jersey Takes a Big Step Toward Renewable Energy (and Nuclear Gets Help, for Now)

TRENTON — New Jersey significantly altered the future of its energy sector on Thursday, passing two bills that set ambitious goals for expanding renewable power and curtailing greenhouse gases in the state.

The bills, which require power companies in New Jersey to generate 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and subsidize existing nuclear power plants, mark one of the biggest new policy steps that any state has taken toward cutting greenhouse gases since President Trump was elected.

The central piece of legislation, Assembly Bill 3723, sets the renewable energy goal and anchors much of the growth in wind and solar energy, aiming to hit 35 percent renewables by 2025 and eventually 50 percent by 2030. That goal would pull New Jersey in line with some of the leading states on the issue, like New York and California.

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Camden Superintendent Who Led Turnaround Is Stepping Down

CAMDEN, N.J. — The state takeover of this troubled city’s school district gambled on a big question: After years of experiments with more money and charter schools, could anything improve education in Camden?

Five years in, Camden’s answer seems to be yes. With a new model of charter and a new superintendent, student performance and the graduation rate have surged. The dropout rate has been cut in half. When the state arrived in 2013, 23 of the city’s 26 public schools were on the list of New Jersey’s worst performing, eight are now.

The takeover also promised to answer a question that has dogged charters since they were created 25 years ago: Can they produce impressive results if they have to take over neighborhood schools, rather than creating new ones made up of self-selecting families? On that score, the new charter schools have a higher percentage of special education students than the district’s traditional public schools — highly unusual, and maybe unheard-of.

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Acting Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio Says Tax Hikes Are Needed to Avoid Budget Deficit

By Christian Hetrick • 

Acting treasurer Elizabeth Muoio told skeptical state lawmakers on Tuesday that Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed tax hikes are necessary to help fix New Jersey’s shaky finances.

Testifying before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, Muoio tried to sell Murphy’s $37.4 billion budget that includes $1.6 billion in tax increases. She said a “status quo” budget that doesn’t raise new revenue would lead to a budget deficit and a depleted surplus.

“This is not only unsustainable, it’s unacceptable, and the governor is proposing a series of new revenue and budget initiatives to get our fiscal house in order,” she said.

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Murphy commits $53M to pre-K expansion statewide

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent | April 9, 2018

 NJTV News

Gov. Murphy continues to check the boxes on many of his campaign promises. Monday, it was his promise to expand pre-Kindergarten education statewide. The governor was in Jamesburg to restate that commitment.

Murphy is putting $53 million new dollars into his goal of universal pre-K. That’s on top of the $25 million Gov. Christie and state legislators expanded the program by last year. The governor toured a pre-K class inside a Jamesburg elementary school Monday where they have a dual-immersion program, teaching preschoolers in English one week, and in Spanish the next. It gave the governor the backdrop for his message that preschool makes good sense.

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NYPD PAYS $1 MILLION, VOWS SURVEILLANCE REFORMS AFTER SETTLING WITH NJ MUSLIMS

MATT KATZ | WNYC NEWS | APRIL 6, 2018

NJ Spotlight

The NYPD will pay more than $1 million in legal fees and damages, and pledge to end religious-based surveillance, as part of a settlement with New Jersey Muslims who alleged that police officers crossed the Hudson River in the years after September 11 to monitor their mosques, stores, and schools. 

The lawsuit followed shocking revelations in the 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press series that the NYPD cast a wide net in its surveillance of Muslims — even traveling outside New York to photograph license plates parked outside mosques and infiltrate Muslim Student Associations at colleges. The settlement mandates that the NYPD now notify New Jersey authorities, like municipal police and county prosecutors, when operating in their jurisdictions. 

Also as part of the settlement, the NYPD confirmed that it dismantled the Demographics Unit that surveilled Muslims, and certain records from the Muslim surveillance operations will be expunged. 

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New Jersey Becomes a Key Battleground in Race for House Control

TOMS RIVER, N.J. — The tables inside the hotel room were full and Andy Kim, the candidate responsible for filling them, was pleasantly surprised. It was a weeknight fund-raiser after all, rescheduled once already, for this relatively unknown Democratic challenger in a Republican district and a thick fog on Route 37 had obscured the tiny sign directing drivers to the hotel.

“Seven months before Election Day this is not normal, to be able to pack a room on a weekday,” he told a crowd of about 150 supporters, each of whom contributed at least $10 to listen to Mr. Kim and snack on donated croissants.

Ever since the election of President Trump, Democrats across the country have seen a predictable surge in energy among a base eager to take on the White House. What has been perhaps less expected is the uprising against the president coursing through more moderate suburbs, including many Mr. Trump won. Democrats buoyed by recent victories in Republican districts have lofty aims in suburban New Jersey as they work to wrest control of the House from the G.O.P., given Democrats’ surprise victories in Virginia, Alabama and, most recently, Pennsylvania.

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