OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

STATEWIDE - Yet another ranking is out this morning - this time listing the best state to the worst state. U.S. News and World Report concocted the list based on a number of factors, like education, healthcare, economy, etc. New Jersey landed at a not-too-shabby 14th place, beating out New York (which is always nice). The top three states are Massachusetts, New Hampshire and - get this - Minnesota. Number crunchers put New Jersey dead last when it comes to "Government," noting our pitiful efforts at balancing the budget. But New Jersey did come in first for "Low Prison Overpopulation." Suck on that, New York.

TRENTON - Well, we have a proposed state budget for fiscal 2018. Thank you, Gov. Chris Christie. Now the sausage-making begins, as the proposed spending plan is about $1 billion more than the current budget. That's a 2.9 percent increase, for those quick with the calculator, and includes some nice perks - like more aid to the public schools and a $657 million increase in payments to the state pension system. Now, with a 2 percent cap on property taxes, how exactly can all this extra spending be achieved? The governor's plan will now be picked apart to figure out where all the proposed revenue is coming from, as this all needs to be real, balanced and wrapped with a bow by June 30. Let the games begin.  

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EWING - Somewhere in New Jersey, two devoted parents are waking up and hauling themselves to crappy jobs to make money. After all, they have a kid enrolled at the College of New Jersey. And they can be relieved to know their toil is funding such events as "Tasting the Tree of Life," in which students swapped their typical lunch on Tuesday for cheddar-cheese flavored insect larvae, tripe, alligator sausage, snapper soup and 150 other, er, unique foods to promote biodiversity. Dean Jeffrey Osborn, munching on a cricket, explained: "Our goal for the meal broadly is to bring the importance, the impact, and the excitement of science to the TCNJ community."

ON CAMPUS - Celebrities shouldn't get big paydays, at least not for speaking at any publicly funded colleges and universities in New Jersey. That, at least, is the thinking of Assemblyman John DiMaio, who wants a $10,000 cap on speaking fees paid at graduation. DiMaio told SaveJersey it was "ludicrous and wasteful" for Rutgers University to pay $32,000 to pseudo celeb "Snooki" Polizzi for her 2011 "Study hard: Party harder" on-campus speech. He's probably not thrilled about "Little Steven" Van Zandt headlining this year's commencement, at $35,000. Meanwhile, Rutgers paid a total of $1.43 million on its commencement ceremony headlined by President Barack Obama last spring. Yeah, sure, it's a lot of money, but a nice perk for graduates embarking on years of college debt payments. 

STATEWIDE - If you think journalism is dead, thank heavens for People magazine. The reporters expended many brain cells to concoct what could be the most stupid and overly detailed story about breast enhancement among the "talent" appearing on the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Gotta love this headline: "Jacqueline Laurita Just Got Her Fourth Boob Job (and the Results Will Shock You!)" A revealing comment from Laurita: "They feel so natural and my clothes finally fit." Sigh. Read all about the boobs here

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS 

WASHINGTON - Hey, internet, lay off Melania. The First Lady - who has been thrown, kicking and screaming, into the role of First Lady - is getting a bunch of crap for wearing an outfit last night costing $9,500, with many calling it "inappropriate." She showed up at the President's first address to Congress wearing a "Floral-Embroidered Stretch Pebble-Crepe Dinner Jacket" ($4,995) and the matching skirt ($4,595). Look, she is a rich model who lives in a NYC penthouse, as well as plenty other homes. Jackie Kennedy wasn't slammed for what she wore to her husband's business meetings. (We think.) Time to give Melania a break. Remember who she married.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY 

It was this day in 1962 that the first Kmart opened, beating the first Walmart store by four months. Kmart became known for its Blue Light Specials in its deep-discount, fast-collapsing stores, while Walmart is known for its 1,695 international locations and $200 billion in assets.

WORD OF THE DAY 

Latpanic - noun 

Definition: A person of Hispanic or Latino descent who is in constant fear of being deported under current or pending U.S. immigration policies.  

Example: They say I tremble like a Latpanic, and there's nothing funny about that.  

WEATHER IN A WORD 

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