Day: August 4, 2021

U.S. Department Of Labor Cites Central NJ Medical Facility, Staffing Agency For Exposing Nurses to Coronavirus Hazards

OSHA finds employers failed to ensure safe respirator use while testing hundreds daily

August 4, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–A Central New Jersey medical facility and temporary staffing agency failed to ensure the safety and health of nurses giving flu shots and testing potentially infectious patients for the coronavirus earlier this year, a U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation has found.

OSHA’s investigation – initiated in January in response to a complaint – found that Lakewood Resource and Referral Center did not provide medical evaluations to determine each employee’s ability to use a respirator before they required workers to use them, and failed to fit test employees required to wear respirators. The agency proposed $273,064 after citing the facility for two willful violations. In 2020, OSHA cited the facility for similar hazards after the company failed to protect staff providing medical and dental care from coronavirus.

Investigators also found Homecare Therapies failed to ensure medical evaluations were done and did not provide fit tests for workers required to use respirators. OSHA cited the staffing agency for two serious citations with $13,653 in proposed penalties.

“A safe and healthful workplace is every worker’s right and every employer’s responsibility,” said OSHA Area Office Director Paula Dixon-Roderick in Marlton, New Jersey. “In this case, both employers failed to protect vital frontline healthcare workers from exposure to the coronavirus.”

Lakewood Resource and Referral Center Inc., which operates as the Center for Health, Education, Medicine and Dentistry in Lakewood, contracted with Homecare Therapies – doing business as Horizon Healthcare Staffing – in October 2020 for temporary nurses to assist staff with the administration of flu vaccines initially. After the assignments began, the facility required nurses to administer 200 to 300 coronavirus tests each day for patients and the public.

Founded in 2009, Lakewood Resource and Referral Center Inc. provides preventative, treatment and health education services in Lakewood and the surrounding areas. Licensed in New York and accredited in New Jersey, Homecare Therapies LLC has operations in Manalapan. It has provided services in the New York metropolitan area since 1992.

Read more about feasible and acceptable means of abatement for this hazard.

The employers have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

On March 12, OSHA launched a national emphasis program focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.

On June 10, OSHA also issued an emergency temporary standard to protect healthcare workers from contracting coronavirus. The ETS became effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register.

View OSHA’s COVID-19 information and resources. Agency Occupational Safety & Health Administration Date August 4, 2021Release Number 21-1430-NEW

Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order Updating Evictions Moratorium to Align With Legislation Signed Earlier Today

August 4, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed Executive Order No. 249, which updates the moratorium on evictions established under Executive Order No. 106 (2020) to be aligned with legislation signed into law earlier today (S-3691). The updated moratorium continues to protect residents most impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our evictions moratorium has kept families in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Murphy. “This order updates and maintains the moratorium so that residents still feeling the economic impacts of the pandemic continue to have shelter and can focus on taking care of their families without the threat of losing their homes.”

Executive Order No. 249 acts to update the state’s evictions moratorium to be identical to provisions in S-3691, including the rescinding of certain provisions of Executive Order No. 106 (2020) and aligning expiration dates of other provisions in accordance with the new law. 

For a copy of Executive Order No. 249, please click here.

To read more about S-3691, please click here.

Earlier story here: Governor Murphy Signs Sweeping Housing Eviction Prevention and Utility Assistance Bill

Scenes From Hamilton’s National Night Out

August 4, 2021

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Hamilton Police Division personnel conducted the 2021 Hamilton Police Division National Night Out at Veterans Park, 2206 Kuser Road (South Side), Hamilton, New Jersey on August 3, 2021.

National Night Out is a program on the first Tuesday of August to provide the opportunity for the community to personally connect with their local police department and other first responders.

Some of the following organizations were in attendance, Hamilton Fire Division, U.S. Coast Guard, New Jersey State Corrections, RWJ Hospital, Capital Health, U.S. Army, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Foley’s Market, YMCA, Brothers Pizza, Jersey Mikes, Pretzel Factory, BJ’s, doctors and nurses from RWJ Hospital and Capital Health, Home Depot and many other groups representing our community. There were crafts and games for young kids. DJ Dan provided music. There were many vendors and games to entertain everyone along with free food and drinks.

Mayor Gusciora Appoints New Director for Trenton Fire Department

August 4, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor W. Reed Gusciora announced today that Kenneth M. Douglas, who served most recently as the Orange Township Fire Director, has been selected to lead the Trenton Fire Department.

“We’re particularly proud of our fire department, and Director Douglas has the extensive experience and leadership qualities necessary to ensure our firefighters continue to provide the highest quality service for our residents,” said Mayor Gusciora. “His extensive work in community relations and public education will undoubtedly help improve resident safety in a diverse community like ours.”

“It’s not just about running a great fire department but engaging the entire community to help protect neighborhoods from fire,” said Douglas. “With the right level of engagement – whether it’s at high schools, senior buildings, or community centers – you can drive down the number of preventable fires dramatically. I can’t wait to continue those efforts in New Jersey’s Capital City.”

Douglas has been the Fire Director and Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator in Orange since 2015, where he improved recruitment, retention and diversity for fire personnel and oversaw a community safety education campaign in multiple languages that helped reduce fires in Orange Township by 60 percent over five years. He was also an arson investigator, fire fighter and community relations specialist with the Newark Fire Department, where he worked for 16 years.

Douglas’s appointment will have to be approved by City Council at this Thursday’s Council meeting.

Local Youth Wrestling Coach Arrested And Charged With Distribution Of Child Pornography

August 4, 2021

BRICK, NJ (OCEAN)–A local youth wrestling coach was arrested today on a charge of receipt and distribution of child pornography, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced today.

Alec Donovan, 24, of Brick, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with receipt and distribution of child pornography. He  appeared by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor and was released on $100,000 unsecured bond.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Donovan used a messaging application to share videos containing child pornography over the Internet. From January 2021 through March 2021, Donovan sent three videos containing images of child sexual abuse and received two videos containing images of child sexual abuse via the web-based messaging application. The videos Donovan sent and received depicted sexual acts involving pre-pubescent children.

Donovan also used the web-based messaging application to solicit and engage in conversations with minors, including requesting nude photographs from the minors and sending nude photographs to them.

The charge of receipt and distribution of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

The FBI’s Newark Field Office is asking anyone with information related to this case or who may be a victim, to contact them at

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., with the investigation leading to today’s charge.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicole F. Mastropieri of the Health Care Fraud Unit and Shawn Barnes of the Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Defense counsel: Nikole Pezzullo Esq.,, Freehold, New Jersey

Two Plead Guilty To Wire Fraud Robocall Scam That Defrauded Elderly Victims $600k+

August 4, 2021

CAMDEN, NJ — Two Indian nationals today admitted to conspiracy to commit wire fraud by accepting illegally obtained wire transfers from victims across the country totaling over $600,000, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Zeeshan Khan, 22, and Maaz Ahmed Shamsi, 24, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph Rodriguez in Camden federal court to an information charging each with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

As part of an international fraud scheme, criminal India-based call centers utilized automated robocalls to victims with the intent of defrauding U.S. residents, particularly the elderly. After establishing contact with victims through these automated calls, other members of the conspiracy would coerce or trick the victims into sending large sums of cash through physical shipments or wire transfers to other members of the conspiracy, including Shamsi and Khan. These conspirators used a variety of schemes to convince victims to send money, including impersonating government officials from agencies such as the Social Security Administration, or impersonating law enforcement officers from the FBI or Drug Enforcement Administration, and threatened victims with severe legal or financial consequences if they did not comply. Another method utilized by the callers involved convincing the victims they were speaking with someone from a tech support company and coercing the victims into granting the caller remote access to their personal computers, and through that, to the victims’ bank accounts. By manipulating the victims’ bank accounts, the caller would convince the victims that an overpayment was made to the victims and ultimately instruct them to send money by way of mail or wire transfer to other members of the conspiracy, including Shamsi and Khan.

As part of this scheme, Shamsi and Khan are charged with receiving fraudulent wire transfers from 19 victims across the country totaling approximately $618,000.

The conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the amount of the loss, whichever is greatest. Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for Dec. 6, 2021.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General Office of Investigations, New York Field Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John F. Grasso; and special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York Field Office – El Dorado Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Meriah Russell of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.


Defense counsel:
Khan: Lori Koch Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Camden
Shamsi: Martin Isenberg Esq., Gibbsboro, New Jersey

Lakewood Woman Charged With Counterfeiting

August 4, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on August 4, 2021, Courtney C. Michaels, 25, of Lakewood Township, was charged with Counterfeiting in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:21-32c.

This charge is a result of an investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Squad and Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations. The investigation revealed that Michaels was importing large volumes of counterfeit designer handbags, jewelry, and clothing from overseas. She advertised the goods as designer brands including Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci, and sold those goods across the United States through her online retail websites. The merchandise was not authentic, and was being sold at a fraction of the cost of genuine merchandise.

On August 4, 2021, a search warrant was executed at Michaels’ residence in Lakewood Township where Detectives seized numerous counterfeit items. Michaels was processed at the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office and released on a summons pending a future court appearance.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, and Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. R.P.C. 3.6(b)(6).

Governor Murphy Signs Sweeping Housing Eviction Prevention and Utility Assistance Bill

DCA Surpasses Milestone of Delivering Over $100 Million in Federal Emergency Rental Assistance 

August 4, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed legislation that will provide comprehensive housing eviction prevention and utility assistance for renters who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation (S-3691) appropriates an additional $500 million for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CVERAP) and $250 million for utility assistance, both programs administered by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA). The bill also mandates new eviction and foreclosure moratorium deadlines and special eviction protections for tenants who were directly impacted by the pandemic. This legislation will ensure that New Jersey’s eviction moratorium continues through August for all state residents with household incomes below 120% Area Medium Income (AMI) and through the end of the year for certain households with incomes below 80% AMI. Yesterday’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extending the nationwide moratorium on evictions for 60 days may provide additional protections for certain residents.

The Governor also signed legislation (A-4463) providing additional protections for individuals who were unable to pay rent during the public health emergency by mandating that court records pertaining to their non-payment during this period be kept confidential.

“We have heard the continuing calls for help from New Jerseyans who are struggling to pay their rent and utilities. COVID-19 has put tenants and landlords in a difficult place, and I am pleased to say that more assistance is on the way,” said Governor Murphy. “This bill is going to direct money to the people and programs that need it most. Housing and access to utilities are fundamental to human health and safety and we want to ensure that as many eligible applicants impacted by the pandemic get the help they need during this challenging time.”

“This comprehensive eviction protections bill is the result of some of the best and brightest minds coming together to find practical and realistic solutions for the struggling renters and landlords who have face unprecedented circumstances during this pandemic,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “As DCA Commissioner, I’m aware of the daily struggle that people are facing in finding and keeping housing and our team at DCA is prepared to continue to administer housing and utility assistance to them. I’m in full support of the actions laid out in this bill package to make their lives easier as we financially recover from the pandemic.”

“This measure provides a lifeline to people who need it most at a time of real crisis. It will help prevent renters from losing the safety and security of their homes and allow landlords to continue to maintain their properties in a safe and secure way,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “It’s real eviction prevention because it backs up housing protections with finances so tenants aren’t burdened with debt and landlords aren’t forced into bankruptcy. Housing and utilities are essential needs that should be protected as we continue to work to emerge from the most challenging crisis of our lifetime. I want to praise Senator Stack, Senator Ruiz, Senator Rice and Senator Singleton for their productive work with advocates and other public officials to develop this plan. It is a wise use of federal funds to address two of the most serious threats caused by the pandemic.” 

“This past year has been some of the hardest times in most people’s lives. I’ve been desperately trying to help my constituents in Union City and the greater Hudson County since the very beginning of the pandemic, and have heard first hand all that they have gone through,” said Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack. “We have to recognize that includes many landlords, especially those with only a few tenants, who are also struggling to pay their own bills. Being a public servant is about finding solutions to problems we never thought we would have to face, and ultimately, it is about helping the people of New Jersey when they need it most. That is what we did with this law and I am proud to have been a part of it.”

“The loss of millions of jobs and the resulting economic crisis caused by the pandemic has the potential to trigger an eviction tsunami in the coming months if we do not act now,” said Assembly sponsors Britnee Timberlake, Benjie Wimberly, Angela McKnight, and Shanique Speight. “While many tenants have faced economic hardship during the pandemic, landlords have shouldered the financial burden of housing their tenants, maintaining their buildings, paying their mortgages, taxes, and other financial obligations with limited help from the State or federal government and reduced rental income. This new law will provide significant eviction protections to struggling tenants and a steady stream of assistance income to struggling landlords as New Jersey continues to recover from the pandemic.”

“The pandemic sapped the economic resources of many working-class families particularly among communities of color,” said Frank Argote-Freyre, Chair of the Latino Action Network Foundation. “It was a once in a century crisis that left families impoverished and unable to pay their rents. This legislation offers families an opportunity to reclaim their lives and stay in their homes. It further cements Governor Murphy’s progressive legacy and his dream of creating a more inclusive New Jersey.”

“The signing of this bill marks an important day for New Jersey’s pandemic recovery. We are thankful to the Legislature and Governor Murphy for their leadership and commitment to providing relief for individuals and families throughout our state,” said James C. Williams, Director of Racial Justice Policy at the Fair Share Housing Center. “The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented situation for many New Jerseyans. Black and Latino communities were hit especially hard by the pandemic, and are also disproportionately represented among those currently facing eviction in our state. The $750 million in assistance, as well as the protections provided by this legislation, will provide critical support to individuals and families across our state. We look forward to working with the administration on the implementation of this bill as well as other housing protections.”

“This historic legislation is a comprehensive approach toward ending New Jersey’s eviction moratorium while providing additional rental assistance and tenant protections,” said David H. Brogan, Executive Director of the New Jersey Apartment Association. “It recognizes the struggles of both landlords and tenants, and it puts the necessary tools in the hands of government to help those in need.  We strongly support the legislation and look forward to working with the Administration to ensure the viability of New Jersey’s housing stock.”

The eviction prevention bill will gradually phase out the State’s eviction moratorium based on individual renters’ situations while mandating special protections for those who were unable to pay their rent during the period of March 1, 2020 through August 31, 2021, or, for certain tenants, through December 31, 2021. Additionally, the CVERAP program, which was previously aimed at those who were making less than 80 percent of AMI, will expand its scope of eligible applicants by August 31, 2021, to include those making less than 120 percent of AMI. 

Additional details on S-3691:

  • Ensures that eviction protection is available for tenants with household incomes below 120 percent AMI who were unable to pay their rent between the covered period of March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021, and who provide a self-certification form to their landlords and, when applicable, to the court. Tenants meeting these requirements cannot ever be evicted for any outstanding rent during the covered period. While tenants who are covered by this special protection may not be evicted, this rent is still due to landlords and landlords may pursue this rent through a money judgment.
  • Provides additional eviction preventions for tenants with household incomes below 80 percent AMI, who have applied for state or local rental assistance, and who have experienced an economic impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants meeting these requirements who provide a self-certification for to their landlords and, when applicable, to the courts, are protected from eviction prior to December 31, 2021, for unpaid rent accrued from September 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021. This is in addition to protection from eviction for rent accrued during the covered period as described above.
  • For the special eviction protections to take effect, the tenant MUST provide the required self-certification form to their landlord and, when applicable, to the courts. 
  • All New Jersey households with income less than 120 percent AMI may apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
  • Landlords who are receiving rental assistance must waive any late fees accrued by tenants during the special protections period.
  • Landlords may not report delayed rent to crediting agencies and they cannot sell the debt.
  • Landlords may not disclose non-payment of rent to others and prospective landlords may not deny renting to a person who wasn’t able to pay rent during the covered period of March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021.
  • The moratorium on home foreclosures ends on November 15, 2021, for all income levels. This includes landlords facing foreclosure who currently have tenants.

The new funds appropriated through S-3691 bring the total funds allocated to the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program and Eviction Prevention Program to more than $1.2 billion.

The DCA Division of Housing and Community Resources (DHCR) also announced today that it has reached the milestone of delivering more than $100 million in federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds throughout the state with nearly $131 million in rental relief having been distributed to more than 15,000 households to date. This funding milestone is in addition to the $91.75 million that DCA distributed to 15,000 households in the first phase of the CVERAP program last year. 

U.S. Treasury recently published a report on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in which it describes DCA’s program as a high performer. For the month of June, DCA’s program ranked 6th among all state programs in the amount of ERAP funds expended for that month. According to the report, DCA’s program is also ranked 8th among all state programs in the total amount of ERAP funds expended to date. The report can be found at: Emergency Rental Assistance Program | U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Powerball 3 Days Per Week And Double Play

August 4, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Starting Monday, August 23, Powerball is adding Mondays to the weekly draw schedule and a new way to play, Double Play!

Powerball will now be drawn on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. With more drawings, players can expect the Powerball jackpots to climb faster, and see more cash prizes and jackpots awarded over time.

Double Play is a new add-on feature to Powerball. For an additional $1 per play, players will have a second chance to match their Powerball numbers in a second-chance drawing with a top cash prize of $10 million. The Double Play drawing will be held shortly after each Powerball drawing.

Players will play the same set of numbers for the main Powerball drawing as well as the Double Play Powerball drawing on one ticket. A ticket that includes the Double Play add-on can win in both the main Powerball drawing and the Double Play drawing. Players will continue to choose five numbers from 1 to 69 and one Powerball number from 1 to 26.

Powerball tickets may be purchased with both Power Play and Double Play for an additional $1 each, per play. Tickets purchased with Power Play will only have multiplied prizes in the regular Powerball drawings.

More information on odds, prizes, and complete rules can be found at

Governor Murphy & Treasurer Muoio Welcome S&P’s Decision to Upgrade New Jersey’s Credit Outlook to Positive

Second ratings agency acknowledges structural improvements to State’s finances within a period of three weeks.

August 4, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy and State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio welcome the decision by S&P Global Ratings to upgrade the outlook for New Jersey’s general obligation bonds from stable to positive.

In a statement issued yesterday, S&P Global Ratings said “The outlook revision reflects our view that the decisions made by the state on how to spend surplus revenues in fiscal years 2021 and 2022 could position New Jersey to materially improve its long-term liability profile.”

“We have been entrusted by the people of New Jersey to get our fiscal house in order,” said Governor Murphy. “The S&P Global Ratings outlook upgrade, in addition to the recent outlook upgrade from Moody’s, shows that we’ve made significant progress, all while creating a more fair and equitable playing field for the working families of this state. Making the first full contribution to the pension system in 25 years, and paying off a sizable amount of current debt while avoiding future debt, proves we can return New Jersey’s financial footing to solid ground, all while remaining committed to our values and investing in our people.”

“Fiscal responsibility has been a prime focus of the Murphy Administration, and today’s announcement is another step in the steady progress we have made toward improving the State’s long-term fiscal health,” said Treasurer Muoio. “By making record pension payments, reining in soaring healthcare costs, controlling debt, building our surplus, and pursuing reliable and recurring revenue sources, we have made the prudent and purposeful decisions that are recognized in today’s announcement by S&P Global Ratings.”

This outlook upgrade comes within weeks of Moody’s Investors Service also upgrading the State’s outlook from stable to positive.

In addition to the general obligations bonds, S&P Global Ratings also affirmed its ‘BBB’ rating on various other bonds secured by annual appropriations from the state. 

NEW YORK (S&P Global Ratings) Aug. 3, 2021–S&P Global Ratings revised the outlook to positive from stable on various long-term and underlying debt ratings for the State of New Jersey. At the same time, S&P Global Ratings affirmed its ‘BBB+’ rating on the state’s general obligation (GO) bonds and ‘BBB’ rating on various other bonds secured by annual appropriations from the state. S&P Global Ratings also affirmed its ‘BBB’ rating on New Jersey bonds secured by appropriations for a human services provider, and its ‘BB+’ rating on South Jersey Port Corp.’s state moral obligation debt.

In addition, we revised the outlook to positive from stable and affirmed the ‘BBB’ rating on New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s first-lien motor vehicle surcharge revenue bonds rated under our “Priority-Lien Tax Revenue Debt” criteria (published Oct. 22, 2018), which factor in both the strength and stability of the pledged revenues, as well as the general creditworthiness of the linked obligor, in this case the State of New Jersey (GO rating). The priority-lien rating on these bonds is limited by the state’s general creditworthiness and appropriation risk.

“The outlook revision reflects our view that the decisions made by the state on how to spend surplus revenues in fiscal years 2021 and 2022 could position New Jersey to materially improve its long-term liability profile,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Tiffany Tribbitt. Specifically, efforts to improve pension funding could result in maintenance of a combined funded ratio of more than 40%, which we consider supportive of a higher rating.

Our ‘BBB+’ GO rating on New Jersey reflects what we consider the following weaknesses:

  • A large structural operating deficit, which we calculate at 9.5% of appropriations in fiscal 2022;
  • A large unfunded pension liability, a low pension funded ratio, and a history of substantially underfunding the state retirement systems’ annual actuarially determined contribution (ADC), which, in our view, has created significant structural imbalance and puts pressure on future budgets;
  • Large OPEB obligations; and
  • High debt burden.

These weaknesses are offset, in our opinion, by the following GO credit strengths:

  • Per capita income equal to 126% of the nation, among the highest of the 50 states;
  • A diverse economic base of 8.9 million people showing, until now, recent growth at levels that have lagged the national rate;
  • Budgeted reserves equal to a good 5.1% of appropriations; and
  • New Jersey’s efforts to reduce its debt burden and unfunded pension obligations.

New Jersey’s overall score under our state rating criteria is ‘2.6’, reflecting an indicative credit score of ‘A’, which can be further adjusted based on scoring overrides. As of the most recent June 30, 2020, GASB reporting, the state’s combined pension funded ratio was 38.4%, triggering our one-notch adjustment for pensions with funded levels below 40%. We have made an additional one-notch override adjustment for weak structural budget performance, leading to a ‘BBB+’ indicative rating under our state criteria methodology.

We view New Jersey’s social and governance risks as somewhat elevated due to court mandates regarding school funding in low-income districts and historical pension contribution underfunding. The state provides cybersecurity support for its local governments and school districts through the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communication Integration Cell, which we view as a sign of good governance and risk mitigation. We view environmental risks as elevated given New Jersey’s long coastal exposure and elevated levels of air pollution, in part due to emissions from other states, although the state actively works to mitigate these risks through agency planning and partnering with local governments.

Should the state make sustainable progress in improving its GASB pension funded ratio above 40%, without increasing its structural deficit and or experiencing deterioration in any other credit factors, we could raise the rating during our two-year outlook horizon.

If the state is unable to continue to fund the ADC and its structural deficit persists, because of such factors as little or no revenue growth due to a weakening of the economy, pension underperformance, or political unwillingness to make necessary adjustments, we could revise the outlook to stable.

Related Research

  • Through The ESG Lens 2.0: A Deeper Dive Into U.S. Public Finance Credit Factors, April 28, 2020

Trenton Man Arrested In August 1, 2021 Shooting-Murder Of Daquan Basnight

August 4, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported today that an investigation by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Trenton Police Department has led to the arrest of a Trenton man for this weekend’s fatal shooting of Daquan Basnight.

Matthew Tanner, 36, was arrested without incident Tuesday evening in Trenton by members of the MCHTF, the U.S. Marshals NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Trenton Police Street Crimes Unit.  He is charged with one count of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon and one count of second-degree certain persons not to possess a weapon.  The prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to detain Tanner pending trial.

At approximately 12:20 a.m. on Sunday, August 1, the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system activated for multiple rounds in the 800 block of Stuyvesant Avenue.  Police responded and located the victim, 30-year-old Basnight of Ewing, lying in the street with multiple gunshot wounds to his face and body.

The investigation is ongoing.  Anyone with information is asked to call HTF Detective Shawn Bruton at (609) 989-6406. Information can also be emailed to

Despite having been charged, every defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Update: Victim Identified In Last Night’s Stuyvesant Ave. Shooting In Trenton

Updated: Fatal Shooting In Trenton

Trenton Man Arrested In August 1, 2021 Shooting-Murder Of Daquan Basnight

Names of 2021* homicide victims: 

  1. 2/18/2021 Jabree Saunders, 26, from shooting on May 14, 2018
  2. 2/22/2021 Khalil Gibbs, 25, of West Windsor, shooting
  3. 2/25/2021 Lovelle Laramore, 60, of Trenton shooting
  4. 4/15/2021 Kaheem Carter, 22, of Trenton, shooting
  5. 4/20/2021 Shaquan McNeil, 25, of Trenton, shooting
  6. 4/24/2021 Cheryl Jones, 65, of Trenton, shooting
  7. 4/29/2021 Ramire Harvey, 25, of Trenton, shooting
  8. 5/15/2021 David Williams 36, of Trenton, shooting
  9. 5/29/2021 Edgar Geovani Sis-Luis, 34, of Trenton, aggravated manslaughter
  10. 7/05/2021 Dion Ellis, 16, Trenton, Shooting
  11. 7/14/2021 Pablo Herrera Chun, 53, Trenton, Shooting
  12. 7/19/2021 William Mitchell, 33, Trenton, Shooting
  13. 7/19/2021 Jermel Carter, 38, Trenton, Shooting
  14. 7/29/2021 Leonard Pettigrew, 58, Trenton, Shooting
  15. 7/30/2021 Shaquil Loftin, 23, Shooting, Trenton
  16. 8/01/2021 Daquan Basnight, 30, of Ewing, Shooting

*Updated to reflect the person who died in 2021 from complications from a shooting on May 14, 2018 as per medical examiner report.

Be Alert For Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease In Deer

August 4, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Division of Fish and Wildlife is asking the public to be alert for deer that may be affected by Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) and to report any suspected cases. Symptoms include: difficulty standing, drooling, lethargy, respiratory distress, foam from the mouth or nose, and swelling of the face, tongue, and neck. Sick or dead deer are often seen in or near water. Reports can be made as follows:

Division Deer Biologist: 609-259-6965
Division Veterinarian: 908-735-6398 or

Long Beach Island Health Department Investigates COVID-19 Clusters Among Teens Who Attended Teen Night Clubs

August 4, 2021

SHIP BOTTOM, NJ (OCEAN)–The Long Beach Island Health Department (LBIHD) received the first report of a positive Covid-19 case on July 19th that cited attending teen nights in Beach Haven on Sunday July 11th and Tuesday July 13th. LBIHD was then notified on July 26th of an additional positive teenager who attended a teen night on Sunday, 7/18. LBIHD was again notified on August 2nd of (2) laboratory confirmed positive teens that attended Teen Night on Sunday, 7/25 and (1) positive teen that attended a teen night on Tuesday, 7/27.

We received communication from our local urgent care clinicians over this past weekend citing a significant uptick in testing and positive outcome of teenagers that referenced attending teen nights the week prior. We also received several calls of parents of teenagers testing positive all having recent local teen night club attendance. Based on laboratory confirmed and office reporting as of August 3, (11) positive teens all with a common attendance at teen nights.

The State Health Department has been notified of this community cluster. It can be challenging to identify the full scope of this cluster due to under reporting, cases can be dispersed over the state and region during the height of the summer season. However, we will be actively associating any reported cases to our jurisdiction that share this common element.

If you have attended these venues within the last 14 days and are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, regardless of immunization status, we would advise testing. The recommended time to seek testing in no sooner than 5 days after an exposure to ensure if transmission and infection from the virus occurred it will be captured.

We would advise both parents and teenagers that events that bring teenagers together in large numbers and social atmospheres pose significant risk of Covid-19 transmission. Unlike more structured and regulated organizations that host youth, teens night often do not require health screening, immunization status, social distance, masking or negative covid-19 tests. The latest immunization coverage updated by CDC on 7/29/21 for those 12-15 yrs of age is 27% and for those 16-24 yrs. of age is 41%. Immunizations are widely available for 12 and older and we strongly encourage receiving the vaccine.

Please feel free to contact our local health Department at 609-492-1212 or the local health department in the respective jurisdiction you reside.