Weekly Roundup: Week of July 22

TRENTON – The biggest political news in a relatively quiet week was delivered on Thursday when word leaked out that labor leader Milly Silva would be the running mate for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sen. Barbara Buono.

Buono, who trails by wide margins in the polls, turned to one of her strongest sectors of support for a lieutenant governor candidate. Silva is executive vice president of SEIU 1199.

The union, more than 7,000 health care workers, looks to be a dependable source of support for the state senator who is trying to unseat Gov. Chris Christie by appealing to a traditional Democratic Party base.

Silva has been a regular presence at Buono campaign stops and the duo form only the third all-female governor/lieutenant governor slate in the nation’s history.

Whether Silva’s presence can boost a campaign consistently trailing well behind Christie remains to be seen.

 

Numbers crunching

June revenue figures were released on Thursday,  and as is often the case, the Treasurer and the Office of Legislative Services did not quite agree on whether the glass is half full or half empty.

Treasury put an optimistic spin on the figures, citing that June income tax collections set a record for the month.

In addition, Treasury reported that “The State’s fiscal year 2013 revenue collections through June totaled $25.6 billion, which is $1.58 billion, or 6.6 percent, more than in fiscal year 2012, and $143 million ahead of revised projections.”

Not so fast, said the OLS analysis.

The nonpartisan office reported that while the numbers looked good in one respect, there still is a chance the state could end FY 2013 about $150 million behind projected revenues.

In its revenue snapshot, the office noted that the 14 major revenue categories rose 6.6 percent over last year, off the 7.2 percent growth needed to hit Gov. Chris Christie’s revised revenue projections.

 

Bullet points

Gun-control advocates called for Christie to sign four bills on his desk that would address various aspects of firearms violence.

Democratic Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, whose district includes Trenton, which has seen 22 killings already this year, led the call to have the governor sign bills that would increase the use of background checks and databases.

The bills would clarify that firearms traffickers could forfeit their vehicles, require law enforcement to report firearms data to electronic databases, increase penalties for knowingly selling to a middleman, and mandate background checks by a federally licensed dealer for nearly all sales.

Some of the measures drew bipartisan backing in the Legislature, but some were passed along party lines, with Republicans largely in opposition.

Bryan Miller, former head of Ceasefire New Jersey and now head of Heeding God’s Call, summarized the bills’ chances this way: If Christie want to appease national backers in anticipation of running for president, he’ll reject the bills; if he wants to do what Miller says is best for New Jersey, he’ll sign them.

 

Conflict resolutions

The Joint Committee on Ethical Standards met and dismissed complaints against three state legislators.

A complaint against Republican Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini, (R-11), had been brought by an official of the Coalition of Medical Marijuana who alleged a possible conflict.

Angelini is head of a non-profit, Prevention First, which among other things provides prevention education to families.

The committee considered but rejected the contention that her votes regarding medical marijuana represented a conflict of interest.

The panel also tossed complaints against two Democrats, Sen. Shirley Turner of Trenton and Assemblyman Herb Conaway of Delran, that had been brought by the same person.

The complainant, Gregory Smith, said their district offices did not respond to issues he raised.  In Conaway’s case, Smith had complained about nursing home care his father was receiving; in Turner’s case, he had complained about care his mother received during an ambulance transport.

But in each case, the committee ruled timeliness was the issue. Both complaints were raised long past the deadline.

"He’s obviously working very, very hard at it. I mean he’s traveling all over the country as chairman of the [Republican Governors Association] and I think at this point he has as good a chance or better than anybody else. His name is household word all across the country, and I think he would make a great president."
—former U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton (R-3), on Gov. Chris Christie