THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS FROM HUNDREDS OF NJ SCHOOLS PROTEST GUN VIOLENCE

CARLY SITRIN | MARCH 15, 2018

NJ Spotlight

Students walking out at Hillsborough High School

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Thousands of students across New Jersey walked out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. yesterday to protest gun violence and call on legislators to enact stricter gun-control measures. And, as part of a highly coordinated effort, hundreds of social media-savvy teens worked tirelessly to amplify their message.

At each high school, students wore orange and left classes for 17 minutes — one minute for each of the lives lost in the shooting tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, in February. Some schools held a moment of silence, and others released balloons as the names of the victims were read aloud.

Speaking at a Paramus High School press event, Gov. Phil Murphy applauded the students’ efforts. “You are doing what our generation has failed to do. You are proving us to be inadequate and that’s the way it should be,” he said.

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MURPHY’S EDUCATION BUDGET: SOME PLEDGES REDEEMED, SOME DEFERRED

JOHN MOONEY | MARCH 14, 2018

NJ Spotlight

 

Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget for public education next year was as stark a departure from the past eight years as any topic he touched on yesterday.

There was no talk of school vouchers; charter schools got barely a mention; and there certainly were no examples of school overspending and waste. Murphy even extolled the virtues of labor unions.

Welcome to post-Christie education budgeting, with the new governor announcing he would increase aid to virtually all districts, move to expand preschool statewide, and start on the path to tuition-free community college.

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Murphy’s First Budget Is Focused on Progressive Policies and New Taxes

TRENTON — Gov. Philip D. Murphy unveiled his first budget proposal on Tuesday, a $34.7 billion spending plan that reads like a wish-list-come-true for his liberal base and reflects the progressive agenda he campaigned on, and that also seeks to bring relief to frustrated riders of New Jersey’s sputtering commuter rail.

The budget proposed by Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, would use tax increases and new taxes to generate $1.5 billion in revenue to help pay for his ambitious plan, which included restoring the earned-income tax credit, significantly increasing funding for schools, expanding preschool and making community colleges tuition free. He also wants New Jersey to join the growing ranks of states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

“For everyone who cares about common-sense gun safety laws, a 100-percent clean energy future, women’s health care, the rights of our L.G.B.T.Q. brothers and sisters, or immigration policies that are sensible, that allow diverse and safe cities to flourish, the pull of New Jersey will become inescapable,” Mr. Murphy said.

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Racial Justice Drives Fight for, and Against, Legal Pot in New Jersey

By KAREN ROUSE

THE NEW YORK TIMES

MARCH 11, 2018

State Senator Ronald L. Rice, a Democrat from Newark, believes efforts to legalize the recreational use of marijuana would enrich white entrepreneurs while creating problems in African-American neighborhoods.

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During his campaign for governor of New Jersey, Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, pledged to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, telling Democrats at a party conference last year in Atlantic City that creating a new tax revenue was not what was motivating him.

“People ask me all the time, ‘Hey, are you sure you can generate $300 million from the legalization of marijuana?” Mr. Murphy said, citing a figure that his campaign had trumpeted. “I say, ‘You know what, I’m not sure, but that’s not the question. We’re not doing it for the dollars. We’re doing it for social justice.’”

Mr. Murphy argues that the disproportionate number of African-Americans who are jailed on marijuana charges is a main reason to legalize the drug, and he has the support of civil rights groups, cannabis business lobbyists, lawyers, doctors who prescribe medical marijuana and out-of-state cannabis growers.

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Trump threatens to shut down government rather than fund Gateway tunnel

 

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump has threatened to shut down the government rather than fund the Gateway Tunnel project, according to a published report.

Trump said he would veto legislation funding the government through Sept. 30 if it included money for a new tunnel linking New Jersey and Manhattan, according to Politico, which cited multiple sources.

Without a spending bill in place by March 23, federal agencies would be forced to close their doors for the third time under the Trump administration.

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MURPHY ADMINISTRATION MAKES FIRST MOVE TO PART WAYS WITH PARCC

JOHN MOONEY | MARCH 7, 2018

NJ Spotlight

Acting Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet

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Gov. Phil Murphy’s new education commissioner yesterday put out the first official word on what’s next with student testing in New Jersey: an advisory group and a listening tour.

Following through on Murphy’s pledge to end high-stakes PARCC testing, acting Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet informed districts that he would be forming an advisory group to study ideas for the next generation of testing, as well as a tour of every county to hear from students and teachers.

He indicated a review of graduation requirements tied to the testing would also be included in that review.

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How Trump’s Hudson Tunnel Feud Threatens the National Economy

Economic risks keeping Americans up at night include the hastily rewritten tax code and the possibility of a global trade war set off by U.S. tariffs. Consider another cause for insomnia: President Donald Trump’s opposition to a new rail tunnel linking New York and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River.

The current link is shot, corroded by age and chemical-tainted flood water. That’s unnerving enough for the 820,000 passengers a day traveling to New York City jobs or some other U.S. Northeast destination. For those farther afield, there’s the chilling fact that a tunnel predating World War I is key to 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

The first locomotive chugged through the Pennsylvania Railroad’s 2.5-mile tunnel in 1910. Amtrak, its current owner, says it’s still safe, albeit unreliable, and in constant need of temporary fixes. But say its haywire electrical system finally goes kaput, or its cracked concrete walls and ceilings yield to the river’s muck. There goes the New York City commute for Wall Streeters, big-city accountants and lawyers from New Jersey suburbs, plus the legions that work in health, tech, tourism and retail. Beyond New York, that’s the end of Boston-to-Washington service on the nation’s busiest passenger-rail route.

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IRS action on prepaid property taxes slammed as 'naked political payback' against N.J.

WASHINGTON -- New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. and other Democrats on Monday accused the Internal Revenue Service of "naked political payback" for refusing to allow taxpayers to deduct their entire prepaid 2018 property taxes and threatening to step up enforcement of those who try to claim the tax break.

In a letter to acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter, Pascrell, D-9th Dist., and the other Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee said there was no legal justification for the IRS to decide that only 2018 property taxes paid in response to an assessment -- which would cover just the first half of 2018 in New Jersey -- were deductible.

"We view this as a clear case of bureaucratic overreach, and now, as a result, many of our constituents are losing a valuable deduction -- and consequently part of their hard-earned income," the lawmakers said.

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Is Menendez's Republican challenger even more ethically challenged? | Editorial

Posted Mar 4, 2018

Bob Hugin announcing he's running for U.S. Senate as a Republican, challenging U.S. Robert Menendez, at the Springfield Elks Lodge in Springfield , NJ.

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Bob Hugin, an ex-pharma executive, is attacking Sen. Robert Menendez on ethical grounds, as he should. New Jersey deserves better than Menendez, as he says.
 
But is Hugin, who is seeking the GOP nomination to face Menendez, the man to point the finger on ethics?

His stewardship of Celgene, the big pharmaceutical firm based in Summit, raises serious doubts.

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Trump’s Yanked Support for Hudson Tunnel Angers Those Who Saw a Done Deal

For beleaguered commuters who ride trains into and out of New York City, the plan to dig new rail tunnels under the Hudson River must, by now, seem like a big tease.

Just a few months ago, the idea once again appeared to have gained the support it needed in Washington and, once again, it looks as if one powerful official — in this case, the president — could put a stop to it. The latest and perhaps most ominous threat came late Friday night when it was revealed that President Trump had asked Republican leaders to withdraw federal funding for the project.

Mr. Trump has promised to spur “the biggest and boldest infrastructure investment in American history.” So his opposition to an established project that is widely considered a solution to one of the nation’s most critical infrastructure needs has confounded even veterans of his own party. Some fear that Mr. Trump is jeopardizing commerce along the Eastern Seaboard simply to spite Senator Charles E. Schumer, the Democratic leader from New York.

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