Why New Jersey’s Plan for In-Person Schooling Is Falling Apart

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THE NEW  YORK TIMES

Aug. 28, 2020

Teachers in Summit, N.J., protesting the district’s reopening plan last week.Credit...

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Just a few weeks ago it seemed that New Jersey, the state with the highest coronavirus death rate in the nation, was on the verge of reaching a crucial milestone.

After cutting the rate of transmission to one of the lowest levels in the country, the state was preparing to reopen all its schools for in-person instruction.

Then Gov. Philip D. Murphy gave districts the option to open remotely — and things began to fall apart.

Districts that educate the state’s poorest children, including most of the large city school systems, were the first to pull the plug on face-to-face instruction.

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NJ Gas Tax Jumps to Over 50 Cents a Gallon

JOHN REITMEYER | AUGUST 28, 2020

NJ Spotlight

 

Drivers in New Jersey will get hit with a more than 9-cent increase in the state’s per-gallon gas tax starting on Oct. 1, Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration announced Friday.

The gas-tax hike will push the state’s per-gallon levy to over 50 cents. The tax has increased more than 36 cents in the past five years.

According to Department of Treasury officials, the higher tax on gasoline sales will ensure adequate funding for road, bridge and rail improvements, even as fuel consumption has sagged during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The increase is being made under terms that were set in a 2016 state law that overhauled the way New Jersey finances transportation-infrastructure spending.

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N.J. teen who held Black Lives Matter protest gets hit with $2,500 bill for police overtime

Posted Aug 28,2020

When Emily Gil learned of the lack of affordable housing in Englewood Cliffs — and the fact she believes Black residents are priced out of her Bergen County hometown — she felt an urgent need to enact change.

The 18-year-old, who graduated from Bergen County Technical School in June, organized a small, peaceful Black Lives Matter protest last month, she says.

“Englewood Cliffs has dodged affordable housing requirements for 40-plus years,” Gil told NJ Advance Media. “I find that unacceptable.”

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2020 RNC: Trump lashes Biden, defies pandemic on White House stage

Posted Aug 27, 2020

By JONATHAN LEMIRE, MICHELLE L. PRICE and KEVIN FREKING Associated Press

NJ.com

President Donald Trump speaks from the South Lawn of the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020,

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump blasted Joe Biden as a hapless career politician who will endanger Americans’ safety as he accepted his party’s renomination on the South Lawn of the White House. While the coronavirus kills 1,000 Americans each day, Trump defied his own administration’s pandemic guidelines to speak for more than an hour to a tightly packed, largely maskless crowd.

Facing a moment fraught with racial turmoil, economic collapse and a national health emergency, Trump delivered a triumphant, optimistic vision of America’s future Thursday. But he said that brighter horizon could only be secured if he defeated his Democratic foe, who currently has an advantage in most national and battleground state polls.

“We have spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years,” Trump said, referring to the former senator and vice president’s career in Washington.

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NJ Moves to Strengthen November’s Mail-In Election

COLLEEN O'DEA | AUGUST 28, 2020

NJ Spotlight

July 7, 2020: Mallissa Wright placed her primary election ballot in a drop box in Hackensack,.

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The Legislature on Thursday sent Gov. Phil Murphy a trio of bills that would write into law his order that this November’s election be held primarily by mail and would put safeguards in place to prevent the disenfranchisement of large numbers of voters.

Republicans, most of whom opposed the election changes for a host of reasons, questioned whether the state would have the resources to process and count all of the paper ballots within a reasonable amount of time. One third of counties could not meet an extended deadline for certifying primary results, and it took the state Division of Elections more than a month to post the list of winners of the July 7 election. Unofficial results are usually posted within days.

Murphy said he set aside $15 million from the major federal COVID-19 aid package to “put more equipment, more people on the case, both for the vote by mail, as well as the in-person piece” to help move the process along.

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The (Complete!) Transformation of Jeff Van Drew (R-2)

By Fred Snowflack | August 27, 2020

Insider NJ

Jeff Van Drew

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I guess you can say the transformation of Jeff Van Drew is complete.

He only spoke for a few minutes at tonight’s Republican convention but the long-time – and now – former Democrat left no doubt where he now stands – squarely in the center of Donald Trump’s cheering section.

Van Drew’s brief oratory covered all the touchstones of today’s Republican party. He said Democrats are against the police and “God-given rights.” He said he was uncomfortable that a “San Francisco liberal” was running the House and that Joe Biden would be a “puppet” for the radical left.

All of that is in line with what we’ve heard all week at the GOP convention.

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Murphy: ‘There’s no negotiating room’ on $4.9 billion pension payment

By Nikita BiryukovAugust 26 2020

New Jersey Globe

Gov. Phil Murphy.

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Gov. Phil Murphy’s planned $4.9 billion pension payment isn’t up for debate.

“If the pension payment in the budget is $4.9 billion, then the minimum amount that I’m prepared to make in the final deal is $4.9 billion, period,” Murphy said during Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing. “There’s no negotiating room.”

In the revised budget address he delivered at Rutgers University Tuesday, Murphy promised to fund 80% of the state’s pension obligations. That $4.9 billion payment represents an increase of roughly $1.1 billion from payments made in the fiscal year 2020 and about a $1.7 billion increase from payments made to the pension fund in 2019.

Actuarial reports released in May put the state $72 billion short of its full pension liabilities.

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U.S. Justice Dept. wants to know if Murphy order led to COVID nursing home deaths in N.J.

Posted Aug 26, 2020

The U.S. Department of Justice is asking New Jersey and three other states to provide data about orders that “may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents” during the coronavirus pandemic.

The department announced Wednesday it had sent letters to Gov. Phil Murphy and the governors of New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania seeking the information.

The department’s civil rights division is considering whether to launch an investigation under a federal law that protects the rights of people in state-run nursing homes and other facilities, officials said.

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Newark welcomes a new kind of business, where employees are investors

Posted Aug 26, 2020

Lloyd Wilson, 40, was born and raised in Newark and always wanted to start his own business, but life had other plans: two strokes, cancer, and he survived being shot.

Soon, he will own a stake in the Newark Paper Company, a new office supply and janitorial product distribution warehouse that recently opened in the city’s Central Ward. He ushered in the new warehouse with other employees and city officials Wednesday.

“Do you see this?” Lloyd said as he gave his child a good squeeze after the ceremony. “My four-year-old daughter is the reason why I make sure my stake in the company stays. Especially after I build it up. You can’t build something up and walk away from it.”

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$1,000 ‘Baby Bond’ Proposed in N.J. in Bid to Narrow the Wealth Gap

By 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Aug. 25, 2020

“The inequities are too wide, too raw, to ignore,” Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said.Credit...

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Most children born in New Jersey would be entitled to a $1,000 state-financed nest egg under a proposal that Gov. Philip D. Murphy announced on Tuesday in a bid to narrow a widening wealth gap.

The idea to give out the so-called baby bonds is a scaled-down version of legislation introduced by Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, to help address a disparity that, on average, has left white families in the United States seven times wealthier than their Black counterparts.

The New Jersey initiative, which Mr. Murphy’s aides believe is the first state effort of its kind, would cost an estimated $80 million a year and would require legislative approval. The $1,000 allocation, payable with interest when a child turns 18, is included in the amended state budget that Mr. Murphy released on Tuesday.

Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, said the move would be a small but tangible step toward confronting inequities that have been brought into particularly stark relief by the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately affected Black and Latino people, who have died and lost jobs at far higher rates.

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