NJ won’t pay for increased unemployment checks

JOHN REITMEYER, BUDGET/FINANCE WRITER | AUGUST 31, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

Distribution of unemployment benefits in New Jersey since the start of the pandemic

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New Jersey still has billions in unspent federal pandemic aid, but not enough to start picking up the tab for the enhanced unemployment benefits that for months have been funded by the federal government, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

The decision by Murphy to not use the state’s resources to cover the benefits that are set to expire comes as New Jersey has so far regained a little more than half of the jobs lost last year at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The state’s unemployment rate is hovering above 7%, and for thousands of New Jersey residents, the enhanced benefits have been adding $300 to weekly unemployment checks throughout the ongoing health crisis.

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Ciattarelli Banking on One-Issue Voters

By Fred Snowflack | August 30, 2021

Insider NJ

You have probably seen the TV ad – more than once in fact.

A shadowy clip of Phil Murphy shows the governor talking about taxes and then saying the following:

“If you’re a one issue voter and tax rate is your issue, we’re probably not your state.”

Jack Ciattarelli then pops up to ask, “Who says that?”

On one hand, the Republican candidate may be on to something.

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NJ eviction ban shields renters from end of federal moratorium

JON HURDLE, CONTRIBUTING WRITER | AUGUST 30, 2021

NJ Spotlight News

Low-income renters in New Jersey will still be protected from eviction for nonpayment of rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic until the end of 2021 even though the U.S. Supreme Court last week halted the federal government’s latest eviction moratorium.

Qualifying renters in New Jersey are for now shielded from the court’s ruling by a state moratorium on evictions that was imposed by Gov. Phil Murphy in March 2020 and will continue for low- and moderate-income tenants until the end of the year.

Housing advocates condemned the court’s 6-3 ruling that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had exceeded its authority in imposing the national ban. They said eviction bans such as New Jersey’s had kept people housed at a time of extreme economic distress and had helped slow the spread of COVID-19 by keeping people in their homes.

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Mayor Baraka: Our cops, firefighters must be vaccinated to protect the public | Opinion

Published: Aug. 28, 2021

By Ras Baraka

The mayor of Newark says it goes without saying that much of city government explicitly exists for the sole purpose of keeping our residents safe, which is why it is confounding to me that we are getting push back from certain public employee unions about our mandate that all city employees get COVID-19 vaccinations.

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In my duties as mayor of New Jersey’s largest city, there are days I come in contact with dozens and at times, hundreds of people. The other day I met with a multi-generational range of Newark residents, from seniors to children, and I can only feel comfortable with this – for myself and them – because I am vaccinated. Later, I found out I had come in contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID and I thought about the potential “superspreader” consequences if I had been infected. I got tested, as did my immediate staff, and luckily we all came up negative.

Besides myself, there are other people in my administration and the city’s workforce who come in constant contact with the public, either in the office or in the field. People who come into city hall for permits, to pay taxes, apply to licensing and a whole myriad of other reasons, will continue to be met by masked employees and they should be confident their public servants have been vaccinated and they will not leave city hall infected.

Our health inspectors go into restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores and other food establishments to make sure cleanliness standards are met to keep people from getting sick.

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Amid questions, NJ Transit takes first steps to new Transitway to American Dream, MetLife stadium

Published: Aug. 26, 2021

NJ Transit officials took the first step toward creating a new transit system to serve MetLife Stadium and the American Dream retail and entertainment complex in the Meadowlands, approving a $3.5 million contract to do a study.

The system, dubbed Transitway, is being explored to avoid the nightmare scenario of potential highway gridlock on days when NFL home football games happen as shoppers flock to nearby American Dream. An October 2012 traffic study by Sam Schwartz Engineering predicted 151,000 weekday visitors could come to American Dream after it is completed and fully occupied.

What kind of transit system could be built depends the outcome a phase 1 conceptual design to be delivered by December 2022 by HNTB. The type of transit mode, and whether it would augment or eventually replace the existing rail line between Secaucus Junction station and MetLife Stadium, remains to be determined.

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N.J. hospitals getting extra $150M as Biden administration reverses Trump actions

Published: Aug. 26, 2021

President Joe Biden’s administration has reversed two of former President Donald Trump’s policies, which will add an estimated $150 million in federal funding for New Jersey hospitals.

The funding comes at a time when the state’s hospitals, like those around the country, have been slammed by the coronavirus pandemic. New Jersey was one of the states initially hardest hit by COVID-19.

“At a time when New Jersey’s hospitals, doctors and nurses are still on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the injection of millions of dollars in annual federal funding into our hospitals will help them attract and retain the best talent as well continue to provide high-quality care for New Jerseyans,” U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez said.

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Despite law, Newark voters won’t get to fill city council vacancy because it’s too difficult to run an election

By David WildsteinAugust 25 2021

New Jersey Globe

Newark City Councilman Larry Crump. 

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Should voters get to decide who fills the seat of longtime Newark City Councilwoman Mildred Crump, who resigned for health reasons on Monday?

“Technically, yes,” said City Clerk Kenneth Louis.  “But in reality, it’s impossible to do.  There really isn’t time for us to pull this off.”

State law requires special elections for municipal elected officials if the vacancy occurs before September 1.   That would trigger a November 2 contest for Crump’s term, which expires on June 30.

Instead, the city council quietly voted on Tuesday to give the seat to her son, Larry, and bypass an election.

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N.J.’s top court acknowledges racism, bias in criminal justice system. Here’s its plan to change it.

Published: Aug. 25, 2021

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday announced a new plan to combat racism and other inequities in the state’s courts, part of an ongoing effort to make judicial proceedings more fair for all New Jerseyans.

The court last July issued its Action Plan for Ensuring Equal Justice and highlighted nine changes to reduce disparities and obstacles in the criminal justice system. The move was spurred by the national racial reckoning following the death of George Floyd — the Supreme Court has acknowledged the disparities that remain in New Jersey, where more than half of those incarcerated are Black, but racial minorities make up a slim margin of judges.

The new plan focuses on nine other issues that disproportionately affect defendants of color, those living in poverty, with addiction or mental illness as they move through the court system.

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U.S. House paves way to increase property tax breaks after delay spurred by N.J. Democrat

The U.S. House on Tuesday cleared the way to begin drafting a $3.5 trillion spending bill that is expected to ease the Republican tax law’s $10,000 cap on deducting state and local taxes — something that’s gotten lot of attention in high-property tax New Jersey.

The 220-212 vote also paved the way for approval next month of a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that already passed the Senate and includes at least $12.3 billion for New Jersey, plus money that could be tapped to help fund the $11.6 billion Gateway Tunnel under the Hudson River and to extend Amtrak passenger service through New Jersey into the Lehigh Valley and Scranton, Pennsylvania.

But passage was delayed until New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., agreed that there eventually would be a vote on the infrastructure bill next month separate from the larger spending bill.

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FDU Poll: Newark Residents Love Murphy, Baraka, Booker; Ignore Payne, DiVincenzo

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