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As a NJ correspondent, Adrienne Supino is tenacious. Adrienne has reported on many top news events in New Jersey including Governor McGreevey’s resignation. She has interviewed the state’s most notorious death row inmate, covered the issue of political corruption, scandal at the University of Medicine and Dentistry, and uncovered security lapses at the region’s ports and chemical facilities. She is a fill-in anchor and has appeared as a New Jersey expert on MSNBC. She got her start in broadcast news working in production at NBC. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.

On Thursday Governor Corzine made it official. He will scrap the budget proposal that would eliminate the property tax deduction on state income taxes for all but senior citizens. Corzine said he got too much flak from the public as he made his way around the state. On Tuesday at a home in Eatontown, he even mentioned being heckled over the issue as he marched in a St. Paddy’s Day parade.
The property tax deduction only averages about $300 for NJ taxpayers. While the property tax rebate, which still stands to be eliminated or scaled back for most residents has recently averaged double that amount. But the deduction, it turns out, is something of a sacred cow. On the other hand, most people have not grown accustomed to property tax rebates. They realize it’s something extra – a temporary way to help curb spiraling property taxes in NJ. Furthermore, people may have mistakenly thought Corzine was eliminating the property tax deductation on the federal as well as state income tax–a much bigger deal.
Corzine claims the reversal is a natural response to feedback he solicited (even off his facebook page). But his critics, specifically the Republican State Committee Chairman, Tom Wilson, says it’s an election year gimmick. Will the move make Corzine look weak and cost him politically? My take is probably not as much as having gone ahead with the dreaded deduction destruction.

Unfettered embryonic research is expected to be a boon for the New York economy. Some say as many as 5 thousand high-paying jobs will be created as NIH grants flow.
But what about NJ where Governor Corzine and Governors Codey and McGreevey before him, promised to make NJ the national capital for stem cell research. They claimed we could eventually lead the way to new treatments for diseases like Parkinsons and diabetes?
Unfortunately, the answer could be that the new research rules would mean very little here. According to scientists at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden, NJ may have missed the boat.
While New York and California have been investing in embryonic stem cell research, many NJ scientists have either moved on to other research or left the state after Governor Corzine’s 450 million dollar bond referendum was defeated in 2007. About 54 percent of the state’s voters did not support the referendum, which would have funded Stem Cell Institute in New Brunswick and other state research through the sale of bonds. Some opponents objected to the measure on moral grounds, while others opposed the state taking on more debt.
Last month, Corzine cut $13 million from this year’s state budget for stem-cell research after slicing $21 million in January. The Recession claims another victim.
The cuts effectively eliminated state funding for stem-cell research for the year,
Basically without state or federal funding NJ scientists found opportunities elsewhere. At the Coriell Institute scientists have focused energy on so called “pluri-potent” cells that are derived from adult stem cells not embryos. This is probably just fine with those who say using human embryos in scientific research is tantamount to murder.
But the fact may be that the Garden State is not positioned to reap the economic benefits of the new federal policy.

Twice “Berned”

Those who were fleeced by Bernie Madoff want some money back…from the state of NJ.
Bert Ross, a lawyer, real estate investor and the former Englewood Mayor lost 5 million dollars in the alleged Ponzi scheme and paid 75 thousand dollars to the state in taxes on “phantom” income over the past three years. But reclaiming the money won’t be easy in New Jersey!
On February 20th the NJ Division of Taxation posted a “Ponzi Scheme and Amended Returns” notice on its website. It says the state is “…not accepting amended returns with regard to Bernie Madoff or other alleged Ponzi schemes.” It advises taxpayers to claim a loss of investment that can be taken against capital gains in the year of the loss. Since Ross (like many others) has no capital gains in 2008, he would get nothing.
Sixty-six year old Bert Ross feels cheated – twice. Governor Corzine’s staffer told me that they saw the piece on NJN, and Ross is hopeful that the state will reverse its policy. The notice is actually no longer on the website. But the budget is taking precedence and no official action has been taken.
Madoff victims are also awaiting, so far in vain, pre-April 15th instructions from the IRS. Will they be able to amend returns this year? Will the state of New Jersey change its stated policy and give “Berned” investors a break?

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