TRENTON – Sorry to lead with a budget story, as we know you demand titillating excitement every morning. But this is important: State lawmakers have ground out a nine-month state budget, to the tune of $32.7 billion, which whacks millionaires, corporations and health insurers. Luckily, the governor’s ill-timed, ill-fated “Baby Bond” program didn’t make the cut, as, uh, the state is broke. But someone at least ensured a $2.5 billion surplus, as the state braces for a second wave of the coronavirus, and there’s still, miraculously, a $4.7 billion pension payment included in this spending plan. Yet, $4 billion in borrowing and $1 billion in tax increases. Ah, 2020.

NEWTON – When a box of ballots goes missing under your watch, perhaps it is time to examine your career. And so the Sussex County Board of Elections is bidding a fond adieu to its administrator, as of Oct. 1. TAPInto reports the retirement is being conveniently announced, just after a box of 1,666 uncounted primary election ballots was discovered last week. While this swift decision is certainly proactive, the important next step is finding a competent, experienced administrator to oversee the county’s election for the obvious reason: Just 42 days until Nov. 3.

BRIEFING BREATHER

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Volkswagen also manufactures sausages.

STATEWIDE – So it’s getting a bit boring to pick on the MVC, as it is quickly surpassing NJ Transit as the state’s punching bag. But then stupid things happen, like when all state MVC offices were shut down yesterday because of infuriating network glitches. The outage – and the following outrage – was sparked around 9 a.m., shutting down 39 offices throughout the entire state, further fueling the fury of motorists who got on lines nice and early, desperately holding on to those lofty dreams of one day registering a vehicle or renewing a license in New Jersey.

WAYNE – When your entire business model relies on people getting together, enjoying dinner and drinks, while playing video games, Skee-Ball and other indoor fun, all you can say is “Oh, No.” And so New Jersey is now watching Dave & Buster’s death spiral, as the Wall Street Journal is reporting the company with 136 locations is teetering on bankruptcy. Second-quarter sales have plummeted 87% from that time last year, with a net loss of $59 million. Jobs are obviously at stake at locations at the Willowbrook Mall and Woodbridge Center. Silver lining: this awful pandemic will one day end and Dave & Buster’s has proven it is a solid business model for an eventual resurgence.

STATEWIDE – Some infectious disease royalty is coming to New Jersey, as Gov. Phil Murphy plans to host Anthony Fauci on a Facebook Live chat on Thursday. While you can expect Fauci will have some great things to say about how New Jersey has controlled the spread, there is a little controversy. New Jersey has opened bars and restaurants to some limited indoor dining, which Fauci considers to be a no-no, as these businesses have a high degree of infection from unmasked customers. But as this event, set for 11:15 a.m., is set to stream on the governor’s Facebook page, don’t expect too much criticism. Or a backdrop in a diner.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

TORONTO – Unclear if a local man has ever gone on a date, but at least he can say he is the undisputed Dungeon Master.  Yes, many, many Saturday nights have been dedicated to playing Dungeons and Dragons with his fellow party animals.  In fact, his current, dice-playing game has been ongoing since 1982, beginning with three other players, CNN reports. Now, that same game has evolved to two to four, five-hour sessions a week, with nearly 60 active players. No clue how any of these players can survive year after year, as the game involves, well, both dungeons and dragons. But we aren’t the Dungeon Master, so it is not for us to dare question.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

“Game On” for the Cold War on this day in 1949, when the Soviet Union explodes its first atomic bomb.

WORD OF THE DAY

Operose – [AH-puh-rohss] – adjective

Definition: Tedious, worrisome

Example: My prose, though old-fashioned and a bit operose, can be full of beautiful things.

WIT OF THE DAY

“Hi, I’m Michael Scott and I’m in charge of Dunder Mifflin Paper Products here in Scranton, Pennsylvania. But, I’m also the founder of Diversity Tomorrow, because ‘Today is Almost Over.’ Abraham Lincoln once said, 'If you are a racist, I will attack you with the North,' and those are the principles I carry with me into the workplace.”

-Michael Scott

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“Joe Biden says this is a race between Scranton and Park Avenue. This is a race between Scranton and China.”

-Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Fall