US NJ governor proposes tax hikes, legal marijuana in first budget
Oklahoma teachers to lawmakers: Raise pay by April 1 or we shut schools
The largest union for teachers in Oklahoma gave lawmakers in the cash-strapped state an April 1 deadline to approve pay raises for some of the lowest-paid educators in the country or face a shutdown of public schools, its president said on Wednesday. The move came a day after teachers in West Virginia ended a nine-day strike that closed schools statewide, with officials approving a 5 percent pay raise for all state workers.Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, said the union was putting Oklahoma lawmakers on notice that they needed to pass an education budget by April 1 that contained significant pay hikes.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy presented his first budget on Tuesday for $37.4 billion, turning sharply from the previous administration with proposals to hike taxes on millionaires, close loopholes for hedge funds and big businesses, legalize recreational marijuana and phase in free community college.
Murphy, a Democrat who took office in January after eight contentious years of Republican Governor Chris Christie, also proposed gradually lifting the state minimum wage to $15 an hour, boosting education and pre-kindergarten aid, increasing general fund money for the state's beleaguered NJ Transit system and raising the earned income tax credit for low-income working families.
Justice Department proposes banning rapid-fire bump stocks
<p>The Trump administration is proposing banning bump stocks, which allow guns to mimic fully automatic fire and were used in last year's Las Vegas massacre.</p>The Justice Department's regulation, announced on Saturday, would classify the device as a machine gun prohibited under federal law.
And he said the state should raise the sales tax rate back to 7 percent, where it was before Christie and the state's Democrat-led legislature struck a 2016 deal to lower that rate in exchange for higher gasoline taxes.
The revenue raisers for the fiscal 2019 budget, which begins July 1, will fund initiatives Murphy needs to define his new governorship and leave the state with a $743 million surplus, instead of a $161 million deficit.
Despite the would-be windfall, the state is still snared in a fiscal morass, including an employee retirement system that is only about 49 percent funded.
Murphy proposed putting $3.2 billion into public pensions. That amount, which includes money from the lottery, would be the highest in state history but still only 60 percent of what actuaries recommend.
Jeff Sessions: U.S. Prosecutors Won't Take On Small-Time Pot Cases
Federal law enforcement lacks the resources to take on “routine cases” and will continue to focus on drug gangs and larger conspiracies, Sessions said. Federal law enforcement lacks the resources to take on “routine cases” and will continue to focus on drug gangs and larger conspiracies, Sessions said. The comments come after the Trump administration in January threw the burgeoning marijuana legalization movement into uncertainty by reversing the largely hands-off approach that prevailed during the Obama administration, saying federal prosecutors should instead handle marijuana cases however they see fit.
"It's no secret that we face real challenges," Murphy told lawmakers in a speech. "But I am more confident than ever that we have what it takes to build a stronger, fairer New Jersey."
Lawmakers must still debate the budget and send legislation to the governor by June 30.
New Jersey is rated 'A-' with a stable outlook by S&P Global Ratings, the second lowest score of all U.S. states, behind only Illinois.
Adjusted for inflation, New Jersey's revenues are 6 percent below their pre-recession peak, compared with average national growth of 6.5 percent and New York's 14 percent growth, acting State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio said.
Critics fear tax hikes could drive businesses and wealthy taxpayers out of the state. But without more revenues, Murphy would have little room to implement new policies.
Murphy also proposed raising the state property tax deduction cap to $15,000 from $10,000, which would benefit a third of New Jersey homeowners, after federal tax changes that penalize many New Jerseyans with the lower limit.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ in Trenton, New Jersey; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
Raleigh, NC police arrest mother after two videos show baby smoking marijuana .
RALEIGH -- Raleigh police arrested a mother on Wednesday after two videos began to go viral on Facebook apparently showing a baby smoking marijuana. "Big thanks to everyone who posted information about the smoking mother and baby," the Raleigh Police Department wrote on Facebook on Wednesday. "Thanks to your willingness to get involved, the child is now safe and the mother is in police custody.
NJ Governor Proposes New Budget
TRENTON (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy presented his first budget on Tuesday for $37.4 billion, turning sharply from the previous administration with proposals to hike taxes on...
New Jersey Governor's Debate
Democrat and former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno are facing off in a debate for New Jersey governor.
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