Moments after judge rules, a state task force releases stunning report taking aim at political power broker

Posted Jun 17, 2019

In a stunning report issued just minutes after a state Superior Court judge refused to block its release, a special governor’s task force concluded the state’s economic development program was hijacked to favor special interests when giving out billions of dollars in tax incentives.

At the same time, the highly critical report found that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority “did not have adequate procedures in place” to vet applications, including misstatements that would have led to the rejection of some applications or “a significant reduction in the amount of certain awards.”

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Jail run by Democrats is even too cruel for ICE | Editorial

Updated Jun 17, 2019

Here’s how bad things have gotten at a local jail in Essex County, New Jersey:

Even the federal agency that oversees U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under President Trump believes it’s acting inhumanely.

This lockup, run by Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, has been making big money warehousing immigrants for the feds – tens of millions of dollars annually, to offset local property taxes.

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N.J. Democrats scrap Murphy’s millionaires tax in budget, setting up showdown and possible shutdown

Posted Jun 16, 2019

State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (left) and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (right) applaud as Gov. Phil Murphy (center) speaks at the Statehouse in Trenton earlier this year.

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Democratic lawmakers will introduce their own state budget Monday that ditches Gov. Phil Murphy’s long-sought proposal to raise tax increases on millionaires in New Jersey, setting up a showdown with the progressive Democratic governor in the coming days, NJ Advance Media has learned.

In their budget, the lawmakers have also scrapped Murphy’s plans to significantly raise permit fees and enact new taxes on guns and ammunition sold in the Garden State, according to two sources familiar with the budget proposal.

Their proposal also does not include Murphy’s call for a $150-per-head penalty paid by New Jersey businesses that don’t provide health insurance and whose employees are therefore enrolled in Medicaid, the sources said.

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CHARGE THAT TAXPAYER FUNDS TO DEFUNCT CHARTER SCHOOLS CAN’T BE TRACED

CARLY SITRIN | JUNE 17, 2019

NJ Spotlight

 

Dozens of charter schools in New Jersey have closed over the past few years with millions of dollars of federal taxpayer money unaccounted for, a report alleges.

The report, titled “Asleep at the Wheel”from the Network for Public Education, the advocacy group co-founded by education policy expert and charter school critic Diane Ravitch, found that of the 100 charter schools in the state that were awarded grants by the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) between 2006-2014, at least 42 have since closed — or never opened in the first place. And what happened to the total of $8,226,311 awarded them in federal taxpayer dollars is largely unknown.

“We were never able to get a great answer on what happened to that money,” Darcie Cimarusti, who contributed research for the report, said. “We spent a lot of time going back and forth with U.S. Department of Education and they wouldn’t give us a straight answer.”

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Victims of sexual abuse by the Catholic church can begin submitting claims for compensation

Posted Jun 15, 2019

The New Jersey Independent Victim Compensation Program will begin accepting claims related to the sexual abuse of minors by diocesan priests and deacons for all five of New Jersey’s Catholic dioceses, starting this weekend.

The program, known as IVCP, will be led by Kenneth R. Feinberg and Camille S. Biros, who have designed and administered similar programs for the Catholic dioceses in New York and Pennsylvania. They’ve also administered compensation programs for the victims of the Penn State sexual abuse claims, the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Boston Marathon bombing.

Church leaders said Feinberg and Biros will review the case of each alleged victim, then offer victims a settlement. They will determine the amount offered and it will be paid by the dioceses. Church officials will have no authority to challenge the decisions or the amounts awarded as determined by Feinberg and Biros.

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Trump said he would welcome Russian help for his re-election campaign. Booker just called that ‘dangerous and destructive.'

Posted Jun 13, 2019

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s welcoming of assistance from Russia or China for his 2020 re-election campaign was “dangerous and destructive.”

So says U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who hopes to wrest the job from Trumpnext November.

Booker was responding to Trump’s comments to ABC News that he would listen if a foreign adversary of the U.S. had damaging information about his 2020 opponent.

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LAWMAKERS VOTE TO EXTEND TAX INCENTIVE PROGRAMS; MURPHY SIGNALS HE’LL VETO

JOHN REITMEYER | JUNE 14, 2019

NJ Spotlight

 

Lawmakers are defiantly moving ahead with their plan to temporarily extend the state’s main economic-development tax-incentive programs without making any changes, despite Gov. Phil Murphy’s call for significant reform.

Two separate Assembly committees approved legislation yesterday that would keep the controversial programs in place through the end of January, as lawmakers rush to take action before current state law prohibits new incentive applications from being accepted after June 30.

A Senate panel scheduled to follow suit on Monday would move the proposed extension closer to final approval. But a spokesman for the governor said later yesterday that the current bill is likely to be met with a veto if all it does is keep in place programs that have drawn close scrutiny in recent months, including from the Office of the State Comptroller and a special investigative panel set up by Murphy.

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NEW IRS RULES UNDERCUT NJ’S EFFORT TO GET AROUND SALT CAP

JOHN REITMEYER | JUNE 13, 2019

NJ Spotlight

 

New regulations by the Internal Revenue Service significantly undercut — at least for now — a New Jersey law that was enacted last year to help residents get around the capping of the long-cherished SALT deduction for state and local taxes.

The action taken by the IRS this week drew immediate condemnation from Gov. Phil Murphy and other elected officials who backed the law, and it will likely trigger another a lawsuit involving New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and the federal government.

Grewal previously threatened to sue the IRS if it moved to undermine the state’s so-called workaround law, which gave local governments a way to reclassify most property-tax payments as charitable contributions after the federal SALT deduction was capped at $10,000. In a statement posted on social media in response to the latest IRS action, Grewal said, “I remain as committed as ever to challenging the IRS in court.”

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No, governor, I won’t hold a vote on a millionaires tax, top Democrat Sweeney tells Murphy

Updated Jun 12, 2019

No.

That was the terse response from New Jersey’s most powerful state lawmaker Wednesday after Gov. Phil Murphy challenged him to let legislators vote on the governor’s plan to raise income taxes on the state’s millionaires.

“No," state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, told NJ Advance Media after an unrelated event in Jackson when asked if he’ll allow a vote on Murphy’s proposal. “I’ve said it. I don’t know how many times I can say it. We’re not changing.”

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Ending Secret ‘Dark Money’ Political Donations in New Jersey

By Nick Corasaniti

THE NEW YORK TIMES

June 11, 2019

Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, is expected to sign a bill that will force  nonprofit advocacy groups to disclose their highest-spending donors. 

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Television viewers across New Jersey have been seeing a lot of Gov. Philip D. Murphy, standing tall against a deep blue sky in an ad campaign promoting his plan to raise taxes on the wealthy.

But while Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, may star in the ads, the money to pay for them came from a deep-pocketed group unknown to most constituents: New Direction New Jersey.

The nonprofit group is part of a constellation of advocacy groupsacross the country that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money without revealing their donors, a so-called dark money system that watchdog groups say has an unhealthy influence on elections and political debate.

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