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Governor Christie expects a new state budget will be enacted by the end of the month deadline.

Christie questions the specifics of the school funding proposal Democratic legislative leaders want resolved before acting on a budget bill.

But he's confident Democrats won't block a new budget and shut down state government.

"I don't think that the Democrats would be that irresponsible nor that politically stupid to close down the government in an election year. I just don't believe it will happen so I'm not worried about it."

Thanks to a higher gas tax, more than 925 road and transit projects are underway in New Jersey. Governor Christie is touting one set to improve a stretch of a heavily traveled highway in Mercer County.

Christie says the $15 million resurfacing of a five-mile portion of Interstate 95 through Ewing, Hopewell, and Lawrence will begin this summer and be completed in the fall of 2018.

New Jersey lawmakers want the federal government to reimburse the town of Bedminster and Somerset county for security costs when President Trump spends the weekend at his golf club there.

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano says if Trump visits the golf club seven weekends a year, it will cost the town an estimated $1 million over the next four years in overtime costs to help with security.

Most of those who testified at a New Jersey Senate committee hearing said they support legislation to legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older.

Princeton psychiatrist Dr. David Nathan say there's no evidence marijuana is a gateway to using opioids or other drugs.

Julius Caesar
Shakespeare in the Park

Summer means baseball, barbecues, heat -- and free Shakespeare in the Park.  Theater critic Michael Bourne  reviews the first of the plays this summer at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

Steve Seskin
Allan Wolper for WBGO

“Don’t Laugh At Me"

“Don’t Call Me Names"

“Don’t Get Your Pleasure from my pain"

“In God’s eyes we’re all the same"

Grammy award nominee Steve Seskin co-wrote the anti-bullying anthem, Don’t Laugh at Me, with his friend, Allen Shamblin, a song that was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary. It inspired the creation of Operation Respect, a foundation that encourages children to get along with each other.

Top Democratic and Republican lawmakers in New Jersey's Assembly are joining to call for civility and respect in politics.

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick is urging those in leadership at every level of government to tone down the rhetoric.

"When public officials speak with disdain in their voice towards other public officials, that gives a license to the public to do the same, and even more."

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto says politicians must work together to deal with the public's concerns.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering several measures to expand the state’s wine industry.

One of the bills advanced by the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee would make low interest loans available to farmers for preparing land and purchasing vines and equipment for new vineyards.

Another bill would provide tax credits for purchasing barrels, crushers, tanks, and other equipment for a new winery or making improvements at existing ones.

Alexandra Hill / 4323619530

On this month's edition of Newark Today Mayor Ras Baraka talks summer in the city, the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Newark Rebellion, and announces his bid for re-eelection. 

  

A bill advanced by a New Jersey Assembly committee would allow riders to use low-speed electric bikes on streets, bike paths, and sidewalks.

Assemblyman Tim Eustace believes the bikes with speeds under 20 miles an hour would be a good means of transportation for short distances.

"Around the world when you look in cities you see people using electric bicycles to get around town. It reduces traffic congestion. It reduces pollution. It gets people outside."

Assemblywoman Annette Chapparo has some concerns about allowing electric bicycles on sidewalks.

Even though he has some concerns about it, Governor Christie says he’ll consider a school funding agreement hammered out by Democratic leaders in New Jersey's legislature.

The plan would provide an additional $100 million in the state budget for underfunded school districts and reallocate $46 million in so-called adjustment aid to districts with increasing student enrollment.

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto says it’s a good compromise.

Governor Christie is touting a new park project to help revitalize New Jersey's capital city.

A four-and-a-half acre strip of land along the Delaware River will be developed into a Trenton park.

Christie says the state Department of Transportation will use $15 million in federal funds to build a pedestrian walkway over Route 29 from the park to the roof of the Statehouse parking garage.

"It's going to provide access to a part of the Trenton waterfront separated from the downtown area since the 1950s when Route 29 was developed.

Governor Christie's voter approval rating is now at a record low.

Christie's rating is the worst for any governor in any state surveyed by Quinnipiac University in more than 20 years.

Only 15 percent of New Jersey voters approve of the way he's handling his job and 81 percent disapprove.

Pollster Maurice Carroll says 94 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Republicans have a negative view of Christie's job performance.

"He's not well regarded even by his own party. And the way he's performing lately, he's irrelevant. He doesn't matter."

Bipartisan legislation proposed by several federal lawmakers would extend the U-S flood insurance program for six years and make some changes to discourage waste and abuse.

Louisiana U.S. Senator John Kennedy says the legislation would cap flood insurance premium increases for homeowners at 10 percent a year.

“That’s a big step because if you look at what we have now, flood insurance can go up 18 percent for a homeowner. And if it’s your second home or a commercial establishment, it can go up 25 percent.”

Alexandra Hill / 4323619530

The city of Newark recently celebrated it’s third class of Hire Newark graduates. The unique job readiness program, in partnership with Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and RWJBarnabas Health, that is giving unemployed residents a fresh outlook on life.

“We are so immeasurably different than people think we are by just looking at us.”

Fatima Hargrove is one of 20 graduates of Hire Newark, an employment boot camp and job readiness program that helps chronically unemployed residents re-enter the workforce.

A New Jersey lawmaker says you shouldn’t have to take your cell phone, laptop, or tablet to a company-approved store for repairs.

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty has introduced legislation that would require electronics equipment manufacturers to make diagnostic and service documents and parts available to consumers and independent repair providers.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a new initiative to promote local art and help towns reinvigorate their business districts.

A bill advanced by an Assembly committee would encourage the state Commissioner of Community Affairs to help towns deal with the selection process and liability issues of having artists display work in the windows of vacant stores.

Ann Marie Miller with ArtPride New Jersey says that would show art galleries and gift shops the potential for opening there and also helps the artists.

The Higher Education Committee in New Jersey's Assembly has approved a resolution urging the appointment of a voting student representative to Rutgers' Board of Governors.

Suzanne Link is the legislative affairs chair of the Rutgers Student Assembly. She says current Rutgers students know best about the challenges they face and the services they value.

New Jersey's Gubernatorial Race is Set

Jun 9, 2017
Kim Guadagno
The New York Times

The New Jersey Gubernatorial race is now set after Democrat and former Goldman Sachs Executive Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno won their respective primaries earlier this week.

Guadagno greeted her party faithful in West Orange on Primary night.  She took her shots at her new opponent and addressed reporters on her first campaign stop after the election.  Guadagno defended why she didn't mention Governor Christie in her victory speech.

Tony Awards
Michael Bourne for WBGO

The Tony Awards will be presented on Sunday.  WBGO Theater Critic Michael Bourne gives us an idea of what we can expect.

Click above to hear Michael's thoughts.

In New Jersey, it's illegal to take photos of your ballot in a voting booth and share it on social media. The state Assembly has passed a bill that would end that ban.

Assemblyman Raj Mukherji believes that 'selfies' in polling places should be allowed.

"Particularly these days when social media is the most accessible place for people to exercise their freedom of speech, we should be encouraging millennials to tout their political preferences or to display their pride in voting." 

A bill passed by the New Jersey Assembly would allow police departments to set up designated areas for the public to complete purchases made on craigslist or other internet marketplaces.

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker says having a lighted area on police department property that’s monitored with video cameras will make it safer for the buyer and seller to meet.  

Ang Santos / WBGO

Thomas Chapin’s undeniable talent could have been enough inspiration for an Emmy-Award winning documentarian to make a movie. Stephanie Castillo who has just put the finishing touches on Night Bird Song:  The Incandescent Life of Thomas Chapin has another pretty important reason.  She’s his sister in-law.

Lacey Schwartz
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Lacey Schwartz is a woman whose personal and professional journey of race and religion has won attention across the country. She grew up white and Jewish in predominantly white, Woodstock, New York only to learn after entering Georgetown University that her biological father was Rodney Parker, an African-American friend of her mother.

Parker, a legendary New York City college basketball scout was featured in a bestselling basketball book, Heaven is a Playground, by Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Rick Telander.

The sale of real-looking toy guns could be banned in New Jersey if a bill passed by the Assembly becomes law.

Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver says the imitation weapons can be a hazard.

“Children were bringing them to school. They would sometimes intimidate other students. Their classmates did not know they were toys.”

Oliver says there could be tragic consequences if police don’t realize a gun a child is holding is a toy. And she says the replica guns have fooled crime victims.

The top Republican in New Jersey's Assembly has introduced legislation to stop very early marriages in the Garden State.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick says his bill would ban anyone under 16 from marrying or entering into a civil union. 16 and 17 year olds could marry only if a judge finds clear and convincing evidence that a denial would cause them substantial harm.

Two New Jersey Senators want to hold landlords accountable for dangerous, unsanitary conditions in subsidized rental housing.

Democrat Ron Rice says the bill he's sponsoring with Republican Jennifer Beck follows investigations about deplorable conditions at rental complexes in Newark and Asbury Park.

"We have some units where the landlords continue over the years to flip properties, don't maintain them. You have roaches and rats and all kinds of violations taking place in these buildings, the ceilings falling."

Many New Jersey residents were upset when the gas tax was raised 23 cents a gallon last year to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund, but they didn’t take it out on lawmakers in the primary election.

Monmouth University political analyst Patrick Murray says all the state legislators who voted for the tax increase won.

“On the Republican side which is where there was some concern that it could hurt some incumbents there who has supported it, the turnout was so low that there just wasn’t much enthusiasm about voting about anything.”

Former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy has won the Democratic nomination in the race to succeed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

In his victory speech, Murphy says people all across New Jersey are demanding change and he’s here to change things.

“Four more years of Christie style politics won’t change New Jersey’s unfair, unsuccessful, unsustainable course but we will.”

Murphy says he’d fully fund education and put the state on the path to making full payments into the public employee pension fund. And he has a way to pay for it.

Light Turnout Expected at the Primary Polls Today

Jun 6, 2017
Primary Polls
heavy.com

Polling experts are expecting low voter turnout for today's primary election.  Patrick Murray of the Monmouth University Polling Institute estimates 600,000 voters will turn out at the polls, which would be a record low for two contested primaries.

Murray says the low voter turnout may have an impact on the outcome of the election.

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