Fighting Trump on immigration, spending your taxes — NJ Decoded
Good morning, New Jersey.
You’re probably busy, so this won’t take long. You need to know more about what’s going on in New Jersey politics. You might not think so, but trust me – you do. Every day. Think of how much better the arguments could be if we all at least share a common base of facts.
With that in mind, here’s your quick scene-setter for Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017:
You won't see the governor: Gov. Chris Christie has no public schedule today. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno attends a groundbreaking ceremony in Pennsauken at 1 p.m.
The Port Authority strikes back? No legislative action is on the agenda in Trenton. The Assembly Education Committee holds a hearing on school funding in Hackensack at 3 p.m. New Jersey and New York state lawmakers announce legislation seeking to block the Port Authority from utilizing resources that support President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, at 2:30 p.m. in Jersey City.
Christie's no fan of immigration order rollout: Speaking of Trump’s refugee- and travel-ban order, Christie discussed the topic Tuesday. His sharpest elbows were aimed at White House staffers who didn’t loop in key Cabinet officers or Congress: “The roll-out of this executive order was terrible.” He said security decisions must be driven by intelligence, “not through any type of sweeping generalizations about folks.”
Christie's suddenly happy to take questions? The most surprising quote in Christie’s remarks to reporters may have been this one: “Given that I have a little time on my hands, if the press has any questions, I’m happy to take some.” He hadn’t done that in around five months. His event Tuesday was labeled as not having a press availability, but he wound up taking questions for more than a half-hour.
Get ready to spend: Christie also talked about the $300 million Statehouse renovation: “It’s going to happen. Just take it to the bank.” Incidentally, the State Capitol Joint Management Commission – made up of officials from the executive and legislative branches, which oversees the Statehouse complex – voted Tuesday on a resolution supporting the full renovation of the building’s executive wing.
More help for addicts: Christie made his remarks in Newark at the latest in his series of events focused on addiction recovery efforts. He announced the state would increase the number of beds available for treating behavioral health and substance abuse disorders by almost 40 percent. (Here’s a link to coverage by the Asbury Park Press’ Ken Serrano, who writes often about drug-related issues.)
Supreme court debate hits home already: The day’s biggest political story came from Washington, where Trump nominated Appellate Court Judge Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker said he believes Gorsuch “falls far outside of the mainstream,” while U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez was a bit more circumspect. Christie called it a home run in a late-night interview on MSNBC.
Allen's out: A surprise political announcement: Sen. Diane Allen, a Republican from Burlington County in her 22nd year in the Legislature, cited health concerns in announcing she is retiring after this term. That makes five of 40 senators not seeking re-election.
Gov. Murphy? Could be: The gubernatorial primary is in 125 days, on June 6. A new Quinnipiac University poll shows the candidates are little-known, even the presumptive favorites, but Democrat Phil Murphy seems to have the best track. Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski got the endorsement of the National Nurses United union. Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli announced backing from 72 state, county and local elected officials and GOP chairs around Central Jersey.
Teacher tenure rules staying put: The state Supreme Court denied Christie’s bid to reopen the Abbott vs. Burke school-funding case to change teacher tenure rules. (For a closer look, here's the report from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Maddie Hanna.)
Paging Bill Murray: Now that it’s February, meteorological winter is two-thirds over, with nary a significant snowstorm in the books or in the forecast. I trust our Dan Zarrow on the details, and Rutgers’ David Robinson for the big picture – but I’ll still check on the groundhogs tomorrow.
And go forth and express some loud opinions. It’s New Jersey, after all.