NJ has more tax money now than ever. Why?

JOHN REITMEYER, BUDGET/FINANCE WRITER | MARCH 17, 2022

NJ Spotlight News

Two years after predicting the coronavirus pandemic would trigger historic revenue losses, Gov. Phil Murphy is instead once again rewriting his budget projections to account for soaring tax collections.

The Murphy administration’s latest forecast revision has added more than $4.6 billion to the budget’s bottom line for the fiscal year that ends in June.

That’s a substantial sum for a state that has historically had trouble keeping up with all its spending commitments, including the K-12 school-aid law, which hasn’t been fully funded in years.

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New Jersey lawmaker proposes barring minor traffic stops to combat 'driving while Black'

A New Jersey lawmaker has a plan to combat the traffic stop phenomenon derisively known as “driving while Black.”

With studies showing Black drivers are more likely to be pulled over for traffic infractions than white people, Assemblymember Shanique Speight — an Essex County sheriff’s officer who’s Black — introduced legislation last week that would end police stops for minor traffic violations.

But that doesn’t mean drivers would get off scot-free.

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U.S. Justice Dept. needs to investigate troubled N.J. nursing home, says U.S. Sen. Grassley

Published: Mar. 16, 2022

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for an investigation Wednesday into possible civil rights violations at the Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center in Andover in the wake of reports alleging neglect, abuse and failures of care that federal regulators claim threatened the lives of hundreds of residents.

He was joined by fellow GOP Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina, ranking member of the Senate Aging Committee, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. They say a probe is needed to determine if there were violations of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.

“Evidence suggests that Woodland has subjected its residents to egregious and flagrant conditions that have caused them to suffer serious physical and emotional harm,” wrote Grassley in a letter to the Justice Department, co-signed by Scott and Tillis. “The federal government must intervene to prevent abuse and neglect of elderly patients at Woodland.”

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Mayor Baraka Asserts Newark is Moving in ‘The Right Direction’ at State of City Address

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Judge rules convicted former Newark mayor can’t run for city council

Published: Mar. 15, 2022

Former Mayor Sharpe James cannot run for city council in Newark’s May 10 election, a judge ruled Tuesday, citing James’ 2008 fraud conviction that bars him from holding office and rejecting an argument by James’ lawyer that merely running is not the same thing.

Afterward, James’ lawyer, Thomas Ashley, said James would not appeal and will not run in the Spring non-partisan race.

James, 86, who served as mayor from 1986-2006, dropped off nominating petitions last month to be placed on the ballot for one of four at-large council seats in the upcoming municipal election.

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N.J. Supreme Court decision could open police internal affairs reports

Published: Mar. 14, 2022

The New Jersey Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the internal affairs report that led to the resignation of Elizabeth’s police director three years ago should be released publicly and gave guidance on how courts should handle future requests for documents that have long been cloaked in confidentiality.

The high court, in a 6-0 decision, actually ruled that such reports are not disclosable under the state’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA) but they “can and should” be disclosed under common law when public interest outweighs confidentiality concerns.

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Hearing Tuesday in convicted mayor’s suit to run for Newark city council in May 10 election

Published: Mar. 14, 2022

After having filed a lawsuit to get on the ballot for city council in Newark’s May 10 election, former Mayor Sharpe James is now seeking to postpone Wednesday’s scheduled drawing for ballot positions until the suit is decided.

City Clerk Kenneth Louis, who refused to certify James’ candidacy based on a judge’s order barring him from holding office due to criminal convictions in 2008, said delaying the ballot drawing would require rescheduling the election and lead to “chaos.”

A hearing on the case is scheduled for Tuesday at 10:30 a.m., before state Superior Court Judge Thomas Vena in Newark, according to James’ lawyer.

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Here’s what N.J. got from the giant spending bill Congress just passed

Published: Mar. 13, 2022

The long-awaited Gateway Tunnel moved closer to becoming a reality when Congress included $3 billion in the giant federal spending bill that can be tapped to help fund the project.

The allocations were included in the $1.5 trillion spending bill approved by Congress this week and sent to President Joe Biden for his signature. The legislation funds the federal government through Sept. 30.

The measure also includes money to help low-income New Jerseyans pay their winter heating bills, protects the aviation tech center in Egg Harbor Township, and renews grants for urban areas to help with housing and community development projects.

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Yes, Murphy believes N.J. legal weed sales will begin soon. His state budget says so.

Published: Mar. 12, 2022

Gov. Phil Murphy now expects legal weed sales to generate $4 million in state taxes for the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The anticipated revenue — laid out in the budget brief released by the Treasurer’s Office — is a big revision from the spending plan Murphy signed last June, which anticipated the state wouldn’t take in a dime from legal weed sales by mid-2022.

Analysts and those closely following every nuance on cannabis emanating from Trenton say it signals this: despite the recent opening hiccups, the governor fully expects adult weed sales to be up and running in the coming months.

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N.J. will use $641M from J&J opioid settlement to fund treatment, prevention, Murphy says

Published: Mar. 11, 2022

New Jersey will use the $641 million it will get from a nationwide settlement with Johnson & Johnson and three major distributors from the country’s opioid addiction crisis to fund drug treatment and prevention across the state, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Friday.

The money is expected to be divided evenly between the state and counties and municipalities, he said. New Jersey’s share is a part of a $26 billion settlement between the drugmaker and the distributors that will be shared among other states.

“We will not give up this fight, and we will not give up hope. And we won’t give up on the residents who need our compassion the most,” Murphy said at Behavioral Crossroads in Egg Harbor.

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