Monday, April 29, 2013
Report says cost to repair all 908 spans would exceed $874 million.
Essex County’s aging bridges are in need of repair, but the cost to do the work would exceed $874 million, a new report released Monday shows. Of the county’s 908 bridges, about 4 percent have been rated structurally deficient, according to a report on the issue-driven website NJ Spotlight. Additionally, 1-in-5, or 20 percent of the bridges are considered to be functionally obsolete and not in line with current lane and shoulder standards, or occasionally flood, according to National Bridge Inventory data. The average age of an Essex County bridge is 50 years old. About one in four bridges in the state are either in poor condition or unable to handle current traffic loads, the data shows. Each bridge was rated based on structure, …
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
A new report, described as sobering and even "scary" by the Board of Public Utilities, says utilities should improve response times when restoring power to customers.
Warning that extreme weather is here to stay, state regulatory officials yesterday began weighing steps that New Jersey electric utilities should take to improve response times when restoring power to customers. At a hearing in the Statehouse Annex, the Board of Public Utilities heard a consultant retained by the agency detail some of the 143 recommendations made to deal with future major storms. Two unprecedented storms in 2011, which left nearly 3 million electric customers without power, triggered the investigation. Hurricane Irene landed in late August, leaving 1.9 million customers without power, the largest number of outages in New Jersey's history. The second, a rare snowstorm two days before Halloween, left some customers without …
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Employment and revenue lag, while pension gap, debt, and infrastructure needs are high.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
By Mark Magyar, NJ Spotlight The jump in New Jersey’s unemployment rate last month to 9.6 percent -- the farthest the state has been above the national average in 30 years -- is just the latest in a series of sobering statistics on the state’s economy and budget. The 0.4 percent increase from May’s unemployment rate put New Jersey 1.4 percent higher than the national average of 8.2 percent, although the bad news was offset somewhat by a gain of 9,900 jobs during the month. But more troubling news came out of the State Budget Crisis Task Force report issued last week by a blue-ribbon panel of economists. It warned that New Jersey and other state governments faced looming fiscal crises in the years ahead that will require new revenues or …
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
On NJ Spotlight: Now that the ACA has been upheld, New Jersey -- and other states -- must make critical decisions on a tight timetable.
Now that the Affordable Care Act has been declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, states must scramble to implement the law by deadlines set forth in the legislation or risk being noncompliant and losing federal funding for many provisions. On Friday, July 13, NJ Spotlight hosted a roundtable discussion at Montclair State University with healthcare advocates to discuss the issues that now must be addressed, as well as the various positions of stakeholders and the requisite timetables. On the panel were Sen. Joe Vitale, D-Middlesex, chair of the state Senate health, human services and senior citizens committee; Joel Cantor, director of the Center for Health Policy at Rutgers; Jeff Brown, coordinator of policy advocacy and …
Monday, May 7, 2012
The STARS scholarship program, an incentive for bright students to attend county college, will now only pay tuition, not fees, saving the treasury between $1 million $4.8 million.
Friday, April 27, 2012
In Essex County, we mailed in an average $2,382 to the NJ government.
Last Tuesday was tax day, one of the most universally hated days of the year by citizens. But the New Jersey government loves it. Or, at least, needs it. NJ Spotlight’s latest interact map looks at the tax stats -- the number of returns, total income and the change from 2008, taxable income, the total tax liability and average incomes and tax bills per return and per capita. Read the story here and use the map to learn more. Here are the Essex numbers: Essex County Returns: 325,672 Total Income: $24,772,530,600 Change from 2008: $(675,823,200) Percent change: -2.7% Taxable Income: $22,538,945,200 Tax Charged: $775,750,000 Average Total Income: $76,066 Average Taxable Income: $69,208 Average Net Tax: $2,382 Total Income Per Capita: $31,900 …
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
If NYC brings back the commuter tax it will affect Essex County's 30,000-plus commuters.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Kids will get their first taste of new national academic standards coming to NJ
When Bloomfield School Superintendent Jason Bing addressed the township council earlier this week, he gave a brief overview of initiatives that have taken place in the district this year, and expected changes in the coming year. Among them, he said, were future changes in standardized testing requirements. "New Jersey is one of many states that is moving from state standards to national standards," said Bing. Accordingly, new article by NJ Spotlight is reporting that when elementary and middle school students sit down next month for the annual state testing, they will get their first taste of new national academic standards coming to New Jersey—and they may not even know it. "The Christie administration will begin to “field test” …
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
All nonviolent drug users could be ordered to compulsory drug court instead of prison.
Gov. Chris Christie is proposing what might sound like a counterintuitive strategy to address the revolving door of drug abuse, crime and prison. He wants to expand the state's drug court, where substance-addicted, nonviolent offenders voluntarily enter treatment programs instead of going to jail. But Christie proposes making treatment mandatory, not voluntary, for nonviolent offenders. Which raises the question: How effective can drug treatment be if individuals aren't there willingly? "Which will do more harm: To put someone in jail or in treatment?" said Dr. Manuel Guantez, executive director of Turning Point in Paterson. Jailed nonviolent drug offenders "end up getting a PhD or a master's in how to do drugs, how to sell drugs, how to…
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
The release of more details from the U.S. Census helps put NJ's Hispanic population into sharper focus.
Despite its relatively small size, New Jersey is home to 8.8 million people, as counted by the 2010 U.S. Census. Nearly 18 percent of those residents are Hispanic, making this group the largest minority in the state. They are also the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group. The growth in the state’s Hispanic population has challenged government at all levels, particularly when the residents are relative newcomers with poor English language skills. Some school districts have boosted their English as a Second Language programs. There has also been an increased need for translators to help those seeking services. And many governmental forms are now bilingual. Recently, the U.S. Census Bureau released additional details from the decennial …