Don’t like the tax deduction cap? A simple solution | Editorial

Posted Oct 07, 2019

Having the highest property taxes in the nation is bad. But credit where it’s due: President Trump has made it worse.

To help pay for his trillions of dollars in tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefitted the wealthy, he targeted a tax break primarily used by the middle class in New Jersey.

Trump capped the write-off for state and local taxes, known as SALT, to $10,000. Many people pay more than that, especially in high-tax blue states like ours. Now they can’t deduct it from their federal returns.

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NJ in New Regional Effort to Cap Vehicle Emissions

TOM JOHNSON | OCTOBER 7, 2019 

NJ Spotlight

The proposal is for a cap on emissions from the transportation sector

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In what could amount to the most significant regional effort yet to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 12 states have issued a draft policy framework to create a cap-and-trade program to reduce global warming pollution from vehicles.

The proposal, developed by the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI), is modeled somewhat after the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program that for the past decade has helped clamp down on carbon pollution from power plants.

This draft framework, while sparse in details, proposes to put a cap on emissions from the transportation sector by requiring state fuel suppliers to buy allowances, which would be auctioned off for the right to emit carbon.

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Chris Christie and Phil Murphy are really going at each other now

Updated Oct 06, 2019

The war of words between former Gov. Chris Christie and current Gov. Phil Murphy has really heated up.

The attacks launched by the never-shy Republican and the publicly cheerful sitting Democratic governor hit a new high in the past few weeks, getting more pointed and personal. Christie said Murphy was engaged in “political theater” and that he couldn’t get things done with fellow Democrats. Murphy said Christie “basically ruined the state.”

Christie had long broken his vow to not talk publicly about Jersey politics after he left office, declaring in April he gave Murphy “15 months of (his) silence” and that he planned to “go out and start having some fun.”

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Murphy admin should finally borrow $100M to fix lead pipes in schools, top Dem says

Updated Oct 05, 2019

It was nearly a year ago when New Jersey voters approved a bond act allowing the state to borrow $500 million to improve security and water at schools across the state.

Of that money, $100 million was slated to go toward updating water systems at K-12 schools to remove lead.

But 11 months have passed since last November’s vote, and Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has yet to go to the bond market to borrow the money or tell school districts how to apply for the funds, New Jersey’s top state lawmaker pointed out Friday.

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Trump signs Booker bill to help get lead out of the water

Updated Oct 05, 2019

President Donald Trump signed a new law on Friday that gives New Jersey officials access to $100 million in federal funds to invest in crumbling water infrastructure and prevent lead from leaching into the drinking supply.

The legislation, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., allows states a one-time transfer of funds from its Clean Water State Revolving Fund to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. The measure allows New Jersey to pull additional resources to help Newark and other municipalities replace old lead pipes that are flaking into the tap.

“Every day, children and families are facing the realities of our country’s aging infrastructure and worrying about the safety of their drinking water,” Booker, Newark’s former mayor, said in a statement. "The federal government has a responsibility to restore their peace of mind and this legislation will give states desperately needed resources to repair and upgrade their drinking water systems.

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Newark will stop giving out bottles, urges residents to use filters for lead-laced water

Updated Oct 04, 2019

Starting next Tuesday, most Newark residents will no longer be able to pick up bottled water and should resume using city-issued filters to reduce lead levels in the tap, Mayor Ras Baraka said.

“Our message is simple: the filters work, use the filters,” Baraka said in a statement on Friday, after preliminary testing showed most of the filters worked to reduce lead in the drinking supply. "Those numbers make us comfortable to move forward without bottled water.”

Pregnant women and families with young children six years old or younger will still be able to pick up two cases of water every two weeks. The contaminant is particularly harmful for a child’s development and cognition.

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How The Norcross Political Machine Muscled In On Prime Real Estate In New Jersey's Poorest City

Gov. Chris Christie, George Norcross, and State Senate President Steve Sweeney at a groundbreaking ceremony in 2014, in Camden for a Norcross-funded school.
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For decades, Camden, New Jersey, has exemplified urban decay. A steady exodus of residents and jobs turned the once-thriving industrial port into the state’s poorest city. The waterfront was mostly parking lots and vacant land. More than half the city’s budget was funded through state aid.

In the fall of 2013, state lawmakers sought to change that. Promising economic renewal, the Legislature passed a bill creating lucrative tax breaks for companies that agreed to move to distressed communities, with special incentives for Camden.

Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, the city’s leading nonprofit, was already poised to take advantage. It had just signed an agreement with the state giving it the right to purchase a business park known as the L3 complex. 

Located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, the 17-acre site offered some of the best office space in town. The nonprofit’s leaders envisioned millions of dollars in rent that would finance a long list of community projects, from new parks and recreation centers to farmers markets and job training.

But the Norcross brothers had other ideas. 

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Did Cory Booker’s public plea for cash boost his poll numbers? Nope.

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Newark mayor rails against lead water critics as long-term fix surges forward

Posted Oct 03, 2019

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka adamantly defended his handling of the city’s lead water crisis Wednesday night, rejecting any notion that he misled or lied to residents about the problem that’s gripped the city for more than two years.

“I will never concede that we allowed people to drink lead coming from the water without telling them,” a fiery Baraka said during a town hall on the city’s water at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center as supporters cheered him on.

Holding a stack of mailers and press releases, Baraka insisted the city had been informing residents along the way -- since lead levels spiked citywide in 2017 -- but conceded that “some people may have gotten confused” with an April 2018 announcement saying the water was “absolutely safe to drink.”

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Judge Block’s NJ’s New Dark-Money Law, Citing Concerns About Constitutionality

A federal judge on Wednesday stopped — at least temporarily — New Jersey’s new law requiring disclosure by dark-money issue-advocacy groups from taking effect later this month. His reason: legal arguments thus far indicate the likelihood of the law being declared unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti gave a significant win to Americans for Prosperity, the prominent national conservative organization that was first to challenge the law. It also buoyed a host of more liberal-leaning groups — including the American Civil Liberties Union-NJ, which filed its own lawsuit, and the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters — that have been vehement about the requirement they report big donors when the groups work to influence an election, legislation or regulation.

Still, Martinotti’s opinion does not stop the state’s election watchdog from writing rules to implement the law, should it eventually be allowed to enforce it. It also doesn’t prevent the Legislature from passing a measure to clarify or fix the current statute. The state could use one or both of those approaches to try to sway Martinotti, sitting in Trenton, to change his mind.

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