TRENTON – $1 billion in savings? Now we’re talking. Some odd bedfellows – Senate President Steve Sweeney and the New Jersey Education Association – have developed a plan for the governor that would cut more than $1 billion from health care costs for teachers and school districts. (Insert applause here.) The proposal includes the development of two lower-cost health care plans for teachers, which, let’s assume, also includes higher deductibles and limited options. The nitty-gritty should be vetted over the next month, as the Senate puts together a plan for Gov. Phil Murphy to review. Whatever the case, bringing Sweeney together with the NJEA to save money is, no doubt, a welcomed slice of good news.

TRENTON – So, New Jersey has declared its first-ever public health state of emergency. That seems newsworthy, right? But what does it mean? Is the National Guard being dispatched to distribute hand sanitizer, rubber gloves and sneeze guards? Will there be humanitarian airdrops of Lysol? Likely not, the “emergency” does not even include travel restrictions, mandatory closings of all public spaces, curfews and mandates to “shelter in place.” But an “emergency” certainly scares the bejesus out of people, especially kids and seniors. It begs the question: Can New Jersey contain the spread of COVID-19 without this grand, historic declaration? Or are we feeding into mass, media-fueled hysteria? (We ask lots of questions and provide no answers.)

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STATEWIDE – The big “winner” in all this coronavirus mess must be Costco, as state officials are urging us to run out and collect two weeks’ worth of food, medicine and water just in case we find ourselves under self-quarantine. Oh, and we are also urged to keep calm. In a state where we clean out the supermarket when there is a hint of snow flurries, you can just imagine the rush on a 15-pound bag of pancake mix to ensure survival in this era of Amazon Prime. Yes, the state wants us to be prepared for worst-case scenarios. Maybe we just begin by ensuring all kids entering public school this morning wash their hands.

BRIEFING BREATHER: Pope John Paul II was named an “Honorary Harlem Globetrotter” in 2000.

PISCATAWAY – Friendly goats and clucking chickens are just part of the country charm at a Stelton Road farm stand. But, this ever-growing suburb is much different than in 1958 when owners opened John & Joan’s Road Stand to sell vegetables, fruit and flowers. Now, NJ.com says, the town’s code enforcement officer wants the three goats and 50 chickens gone to meet modern-day zoning laws. Otherwise, the stand’s 85-year-old owner face fines and 90 days in jail. Her granddaughter, who runs the business these days, says the pets “are a joy. Kids love to see them. They’re contained (and) they don’t bite.” Her family’s two-year feud with the town comes to a head at an April 23 zoning board hearing. Unclear if goats will be asked to testify.

TRENTON – No one will argue: $100 million is a lot of cash. That’s slightly less than lobbyists spent in New Jersey in 2019, according to data just released by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. And it’s the first time the total for lobbyists exceeded that mark. Be proud; it’s really the best government money can buy. The New Jersey Education Association (the largest teachers’ union) and the pro-Murphy New Direction NJ spent millions more in 2019 than they did a year earlier. And there’s also all the “shadow lobbying” — expenses for consultants who do not have direct contact with legislators or regulators. Reporting amounts spent on these people — typically public relations, advertising and polling consultants – aren’t public, making it hard to figure out how much is thrown at media to help the cause. NJ Spotlight breaks it all down.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

TOOWOOMBA, AUSTRALIA – It’s hard to tell which is funnier: That a toilet paper company is called “Who Gives a Crap” or the fact that a woman mistakenly ordered $2,153.78 worth of rolls.  The Australian women went online to order 48 rolls, as was her custom when the need arose. But, in accessing some new, exciting products on the Who Gives a Crap website, she accidentally checked off 48 boxes, not rolls. And boy, was she ever surprised when the delivery came, in the form of two pallets worth of boxes, equivalent to 12 years’ worth of craps.  Stunned, the women then checked her credit card statement, which quickly revealed the $2,153.73 bill, plus shipping, to Who Gives a Crap. The family is now selling the rolls off, one at a time, to raise money for her daughter’s field trip. Meanwhile, Who Gives a Crap is sold out of inventory. So, apparently someone gives a crap.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

There was plenty of excitement in the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the Virgin Islands, all of which give the thumb’s up to Mitt Romney on this day in 2012, where he won presidential caucuses.

WORD OF THE DAY

Chapfallen – [CHAP-faw-lən] – adjective

Definition: cast down in spirit; depressed

Example: I looked at my college savings account this morning; I was completely chapfallen.

WIT OF THE DAY

“Transparency is critical in public health and epidemics; laypeople become either effective force-multipliers or stubborn walls.” 

- T.K. Naliaka

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“Good for the consumer, gasoline prices coming down!”

-Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD: Warm

THE NEW 60
A Jaffe Briefing Exclusive
by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun