TRENTON - One of the perks of the state Legislature adopting a state budget is that we no longer have to write about the state budget. But, now, as time is ticking down to an adopted budget by June 30, there's all this "drama" unfolding. The latest: Gov. Phil Murphy is now vowing to slash $855 million in spending from the Legislature's $36.5 billion budget in order to sign it, claiming lawmakers had inflated revenue projections - a tried-and-true Trenton tradition. Legislative leaders say the money is real; the gimmicks at a bare minimum. Whatever the case, this budget season is all about power. Who has it, who doesn't, and who is willing to drive New Jersey into its second consecutive government shutdown in the days preceding the Fourth of July, when people actually expect state beaches and parks to be open.
TRENTON - State lawmakers are thinking small - like, really, reallysmall - in the ongoing effort to provide affordable housing in New Jersey for very poor people. NJSpotlight reports on a proposed $5 million pilot project that would award grants to some towns willing to build these homes, no larger than 300 square feet. So, think of a large recreation vehicle, which somehow magically includes a kitchen and full bathroom. Yes, these homes are certainly itty-bitty and cheap, but lawmakers note they make much more sense than those tent cities that crop up to serve the homeless.
ATLANTIC CITY - Beginning likely at this moment, you will begin reading a deluge of news stories about two long-awaited big grand openings taking place in just 48 hours. Yes, we are talking about the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and the Ocean Resort Casino, swinging open their doors on Thursday and giving the competing casinos yet another run for their money. Ocean Resort will have sports betting; Hard Rock is thinking about it. Meanwhile, a full schedule of events at each casino promise to keep the venues humming through the summer. All wish for great success.
DOWN THE SHORE - Cops in Seaside Heights bust more drunk drivers than any other Jersey Shore party towns. Wow! Big news, perhaps, to visitors from ...oh, say, the tiny Federated States of Micronesia. But, yesterday's news from NJ.com is, well, just yesterday's news to us garden variety Jerseyans who know that Seaside Heights bursts each summer with young, oiled-up partyers looking for sand, surf, nightclubs, and plenty of booze delivered via funnel. The news outlet's exhaustive look at 2016-17 drunk driving arrests shows Seaside Heights tied Wildwood with 140 DWIs. To be fair, Toms River - Seaside's bigger mainland neighbor - racked up 368 DWI arrests. But, we guess most of those bleary-eyed motorists were just heading back over the Tunney Bridge from Seaside Heights.
NEW BRUNSWICK - The world's biggest toy store is no longer Toys 'R' Us, but that doesn't mean a local hospital shouldn't own what is likely the world's largest toy statue of a giraffe. Yep, "Geoffrey the Giraffe" is getting a new home at Bristol-Myers Squibb's Children's Hospital. TAPinto New Brunswick says Geoffrey's 16-foot, 550-pound fiberglass statue is being shipped next month from the now-bankrupt Toys 'R' Us headquarters in Wayne to thrill recuperating youngsters. Hopefully, the iconic mascot will cheer up children during their hospital stays, and serve as a great reminder to parents of what once was on a highway near you.
BEDMINSTER - He's baaack. Yup, prepare yourself for yet another visit from the big guy, as the FAA has announced temporary flight restrictions this weekend. So, anyone who has any plans to use Morristown Airport, Essex County Airport in Caldwell, Soleburg Airport in Readington or Teterboro Airport, expect delays. And, if you happen to use the roads within a few miles of Trump National Golf Club, prepare for the latest unnecessary and enormously expensive Presidential visit to otherwise sleepy Somerset County.
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
MEXICO CITY - The race for President of Mexico has come down to this: tortilla wrap. In what has been described as an "extraordinary urgent session," Mexico's electoral authority has ordered the center-right National Action Party (PAN) to stop wrapping tortillas with campaign slogans. Apparently, this paper propaganda violates the prevailing legal norms because it is not textile-based and was not recyclable. The campaigns have 24 hours to cease the use of the wrappers. Next up: Are there hidden campaign messages swirling in the hot sauce?
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Purveyors of porn still celebrate this day in 1997, when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a proposed internet indecency law.
WORD OF THE DAY
Amortize - [AM-ər-tyze] - verb
Definition: To gradually reduce or write off the cost or value of something
Example: In the good ol' days, I'd amortize my debts to the bookie at a generous interest rate of, say, 50 percent a day. But now with all this legal sports betting, the casinos expect my entire bet up front. What gives? How can a guy get a break around here?
WEATHER IN A WORD
THE NEW 60
a Jaffe Briefing exclusive
by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun