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December 19, 2014

Override Of Christie Pension Veto Fails In N.J. Senate

The following is an article from NJ.com, here is a link to the article:

TRENTON — The New Jersey Senate today failed to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a measure that would have made it harder for the state to cut pension payments at the last-minute to offset revenue shortfalls at the end of the fiscal year.

The bill (S2265) would have required the governor to make pension payments quarterly in July, October, January and April, instead of at the end of the fiscal year in June.

Sen. Robert Gordon (D-Bergen) said that spreading the payments out could have increased the likelihood the state would make its contribution.

Legislators introduced the measure following Christie’s move to balance the budgets ending in June and beginning in July by withholding $2.4 billion from planned pension payments when gross income tax collections came up short.

In his veto of the bill, Christie called it “an improper and unwarranted intrusion upon the longstanding executive prerogative to determine the appropriate timing of payments” so those expenditures line up with tax collection cycles.… Read the rest

December 18, 2014

New Study Contradicts Christie’s Claim That Pension Payouts Are Excessive

The following is an article from NJSpotlight.com, here is a link to the article:

Using different criteria, report finds New Jersey’s health and retirements benefits for public employees are less generous than plans in most other states

pensions

New Jersey’s public employee pensions are not “exorbitant,” as Gov. Chris Christie has proclaimed, at least not compared with other plans across the country, asserts a new report by a progressive policy organization.

The report released yesterday by New Jersey Policy Perspective does not compare average payments to retirees. It instead compares three other indicators — cost-of-living increases, the “multiplier” that calculates pensions per year of service, and employee contributions.

According to NJPP’s methodology, which drew on data from the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, New Jersey’s pension plans rank 95th out of the 100 largest pension plans in the nation. In other words, based on those criteria, 94 of those 100 pension plans are more generous than New Jersey’s.

Read the rest
December 18, 2014

New Jersey Paid Fees To Mary Pat Christie’s Firm After State Investment Was Terminated

The following is an article from the International Business Times, here is a link to the article:

When the New Jersey pension system terminated a $150 million investment in a fund called Angelo, Gordon & Co. in 2011, that did not close the books on the deal. In the three years since state officials ordered the withdrawal of that state money, New Jersey taxpayers have forked over hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to the firm. As those fees kept flowing, Angelo Gordon made a prominent hire: Mary Pat Christie, wife of Gov. Chris Christie, who joined the company in 2012 as a managing director and now earns $475,000 annually, according to the governor’s most recent tax return.

The disclosure that New Jersey taxpayers have been paying substantial fees to a firm that employs the governor’s spouse — years after state officials said the investment was terminated — emerged in documents released by the Christie administration to International Business Times through a public records request.… Read the rest

December 13, 2014

Federal Funds Mean More Kids In New Jersey Will Get To Attend Preschool

The following is an article from NJSpotlight, here is a link to the article:

About 2,000 children in 19 districts will benefit from $66M in aid, partly closing gap left when state abandoned earlier pledge to expand pre-K

Stalled for five years, New Jersey’s pledge to expand access to public preschool for low-income students statewide got a boost from the federal government yesterday, with the announcement of $17 million in additional funds for next year and more than $66 million over four years.

The federal money will be steered to 19 districts that would have received additional state funding under a 2008 law seeking to expand the Abbott v. Burke equity mandates for preschool beyond the 31 districts directly covered under those rulings.

While not facing needs as severe as the so-called Abbott school districts, these communities nonetheless have large concentrations of low- and moderate-income residents. The law identified more than 90 districts that would qualify.

Read the rest
December 11, 2014

Chris Christie’s N.J. Approval Rating Continues To Hover At A 3-Year Low, Poll Finds

The following is an article from NJ.com, here is a link to the article:

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie’s job approval rating in New Jersey continues to hover around its lowest point in the state in three years, according to a poll released today.

Forty-eight percent of New Jersey voters approve of the job Christie’s doing while nearly just as many – 47 percent – disapprove, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll. The rating is a slight increase from a similar October survey that found Christie’s 46 percent approval rating was at its lowest point since June 2011, when 44 percent approved and 47 percent of voters disapproved.

The October poll found Christie had a 48 percent disapproval rating.

The slumped approval numbers come a year after Christie’s 22-point victory to a second term over his Democratic challenger, former state Sen. Barbara Buono. Christie took a hit in the polls following the fallout of the George Washington Bridge lane closure controversy.… Read the rest

December 11, 2014

State Pension Board Trustees Suing Over Christie’s $2.4 Billion Cut

The following is an article from NJSpotlight, here is a link to the article:

Lawsuit asks courts to order governor either to make payments or restore COLAs, employee contributions to prior level

Trustees for New Jersey’s largest pension funds want the courts to give Gov. Chris Christie a hard choice: Pay the $2.4 billion in state pension payments he cut or throw out the whole 2011 pension reform as a “breached contract”; restore the cost-of-living adjustments that were eliminated for retirees; and lower pension contributions to the levels that teachers, police and other state and local government workers were paying before the law passed.

In essence, the attorneys for the pension funds argue that if Christie’s attorney general is correct in arguing that the pension law he signed is unconstitutional because it binds the governor and Legislature to make ever-increasing future pension payments “with or without a specific appropriation,” then the entire law should be overturned, including the provisions cutting cost-of-living increases and requiring workers to pay more toward their pensions.

Read the rest
December 4, 2014

More Tests, Less Homework Grades, For Barnegat Kids

The following is an article from the Asbury Park press, here is a link to the article:

A new grading structure at the Barnegat Township School District means students can expect homework and class participation to count less toward their final grades.

School officials introduced details of the plan in October, which requires marking period grades to be more dependent on tests and assessments and less influenced by class participation and homework. The new structure also requires teachers to perform a minimum of three assessments.

“Education is different than it once was,” said Superintendent Karen M. Wood. “A lot of careers, a lot of vocations, assess on a regular basis.”

The new grading system is designed to better prepare Barnegat students for the realities of college and careers, where tests and assessments play a greater role in performance reviews and advancement.

Read: “Four local schools sue for more state money

The change was spurred by a review of students’ report card grades, exams and standardized test scores.… Read the rest

December 3, 2014

Bill Aims To End Christie’s Battles With N.J. Legislature Over Revenue Projections

The following is an article from NJ.com, here is a link to the article:

TRENTON — More than six months after faulty revenue estimates prompted Gov. Chris Christie to slash state pension payments, a lawmaker says it’s time to end New Jersey’s perennial fight between the governor and Legislature over how much money will flow to state coffers each year.

State Sen. Robert Gordon (D-Bergen) is proposing a bill that would set up a joint advisory board with members from the executive and legislative branches, saying it could help take politics out of the budget process. Each year, competing forecasts are made by the Treasury Department, an arm of the governor’s office, and the Office of Legislative Services, an arm of the Legislature.

“We’re trying to minimize controversy and to the extent possible, trying to reduce the politics in the revenue side of the budgeting process with the idea that we should really be focusing our debate on the spending side of the budget,” he said.… Read the rest

December 3, 2014

Update On PARCC Testing, ‘Snapshot’ Of Class Of 2014 On Agenda Tomorrow

Board will also review guidelines for state’s oversight of four large urban school district

What: State Board of Education monthly meeting

Date: Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014

Time: 10 a.m.

Where: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton

What they are doing: The state board will hear a series of reports, including the annual summary of information about the state’s Class of 2014 and its graduation statistics. It will also receive updates on the state’s implementation of the new online tests under the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and its ongoing monitoring of school districts under the Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC).

Italian heritage: Not necessarily big policy news, but the board will also hear from the Italian and Italian-American Heritage Commission, created in 2002 to promote the teaching and awareness of the state’s strong Italian roots. The commission has developed a curriculum for public schools to follow that includes suggested readings at different grade levels, as well as historic figures and milestones for study.… Read the rest

December 2, 2014

Day Of Judgment Draws Near For New Jersey’s New Teacher-Evaluation System

The following is an srticle from NJSpotlight.com, here is a link to the article:

Amid debate during first year of implementation, key juncture will be reached soon when teachers get their individual ratings

teacher and apple
There’s been plenty of debate about the effectiveness of New Jersey’s new teacher-evaluation system during its first year. But the bottom-line verdict is likely to come in a few months, when final performance ratings are placed next to individual teachers’ names.

Assistant Education Commissioner Peter Shulman, the Christie administration’s lead official overseeing the evaluation system, said in an interview Friday that the individual ratings process remains on schedule, with teachers slated to receive their grades — ranging from “ineffective” to “highly effective” – in early 2015.

Acknowledging the angst being expressed by New Jersey educators, Shulman said he remains convinced that teachers will fare better than they might expect.

“Some of the apprehension will be mitigated when the final ratings come out,” Shulman said Friday.… Read the rest

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