The Morning Briefing July 30, 2012
SALEM – If there is one lesson to be learned, don’t mess with the ladies working at the motor vehicle office in Salem. Two men were nabbed with concocting an extremely stupid scheme in which one impersonated the other to take the vision test for a driver’s license, Today’s Sunbeam reported. Look at this list of charges: conspiracy, tampering with public records, criminal attempt, criminal simulation and – get this – “uttering a forged instrument.” Seems it would have been a lot easier – and cheaper - if the guy just wore his eyeglasses and took his own test.
TRENTON – The state Legislature hates teenagers. That is the only way to explain some of these bummer laws lately. First, teens can’t bake themselves silly in tanning beds anymore, then lawmakers want to slap all these rules on the kids before they can get their drivers licenses. And now, there is a bill that would prohibit anyone under the age of 17 to use a hot tub in places like hotels and gyms. Really? Where else are 16-year-old boys expected to ogle women and giggle for no apparent reason? Don’t tick these kids off; they all grow up to be voters.
TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie hates the state’s judges. Maybe that’s the truth, as the Assembly is today addressing the controversy over the Governor’s wish to slash pension and benefit goodies for New Jersey judges. Last week, the judges convinced their colleagues on the state Supreme Court that forcing them to pay more for pensions and benefits are akin to a pay cut. And you can’t cut judges’ salaries, according to state law - devised by lawyers who one day hope to become judges. The Assembly will be talking today about how it plans to boot this issue to voters – who would decide on the November ballot if the Legislature can make the cuts.
And, now, a Fun Fact – brought to you this morning by our peeved Governor: New Jersey’s judges are now contributing about $59,000 toward their pensions, yet are receiving about $2.3 million in benefits. Not a bad rate of return – if the state’s pension system can remain solvent.
ASPEN, CO. – Gov. Chris Christie heads to Colorado on Wednesday to be among the finalists in the political version of “American Idol,” as he informally auditions against four other Governors for the coveted “Vice Presidential candidate” role. He’ll be one of five contestants at the Aspen Institute's McCloskey Speaker Series – squaring off against South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The winner, once could say, will be announced at the Republican National Convention, amidst plenty of confetti, patriotic music and the stiff – yet perfectly appropriate – embrace of Mitt Romney.
TRENTON – While wage freezes and benefit reductions seem the life of today’s typical New Jersey employee, our largest corporations are reaping some ultra-nice tax benefits – like $167,000 for every job created or “saved” from leaving the state – through the state’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit. The Wall Street Journal crunched the numbers, showing the state created or retained 6,000 jobs with nearly $1 billion in tax credits to behemoths like Prudential Financial. While the tax credits seem a bit outrageous, New Jersey is desperate to keep these companies. Without them, the Prudential Center, for example, might ultimately be called “Jaffe Communications Center.” And no one wants that.
CAMDEN – One could argue George Norcross is now trying to save Camden one kid at a time. The man who is everywhere is now behind a proposal that would bring the state’s first “renaissance school” to Camden – eventually accommodating nearly 2,900 students in grades pre-K to 12. There are lofty goals here – with a plan to double the number of Camden students who earn a four-year college degree within the next 18 years. Kudos to all who are trying.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Many don’t know that it was this day in 1965 that President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation that created the federal Medicare retirement health care program. One person marking this random fact today is Rep. Frank Pallone, who is using the anniversary to talk up seniors at the Long Branch Senior Center and maybe to enjoy a nice bowl of soup.