Governor Christine Todd Whitman Administration Timeline
Christine Todd Whitman is elected Governor of New Jersey, defeating incumbent Governor James J. Florio by a one-percent margin; 50%-49%. While Republicans lose five seats in the Assembly and three in the Senate, she enters office with her party in control of both chambers of the legislature.
Governor-elect Whitman announces that Judith Shaw will be her chief of staff and Peter Verniero her chief counsel. Shaw is the first female named to that post.
Governor-elect Whitman makes her first Cabinet selection, saying she will nominate Leo F. Klagholz to be the Commissioner of Education.
Governor-elect Whitman announces her nomination of Deborah T. Poritz to be Attorney General. Poritz is the first woman appointed to the position.
Governor-elect Whitman selects Jane M. Kenny, formerly an official in the Kean Administration, to head the Office of Policy and Planning. Kenny is the first female named to that post.
Governor-elect Whitman selects Lonna R. Hooks as her Secretary of State, the first African American to hold the position.
Governor-elect Whitman nominates Linda M. Anselmini to be Commissioner of the Department of Personnel.
Governor-elect Whitman announces that, for the first time, female state troopers will be added to the unit responsible for providing protection to the governor and her family.
Governor-elect Whitman selects Brian W. Clymer as her State Treasurer. Clymer, previously an administrator in the Bush administration, had no previous experience in New Jersey and no relationship to Governor-elect Whitman, but mailed his resume in along with hundreds of others seeking the position.
Governor-elect Whitman says that she will reject an attempt to lure the struggling Philadelphia 76ers professional basketball team to New Jersey, citing the costs of building a new stadium for the team in Camden and uncertainties over the ownership rights and revenues expectations of the plan.
Governor-elect Whitman nominates two more Cabinet officials. She retains William Waldman, originally appointed by Governor James J. Florio at the end of his term, as the Commissioner for the Department of Human Services. She also nominates Frank J. Wilson, the head the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, as her state Transportation Commissioner.
Christine Todd Whitman is inaugurated as the 50th governor of New Jersey, and the state’s first woman governor. In her inaugural address she announces to the audience that she intends to reduce income taxes by 10% retroactively to the beginning of the year, immediately addressing one of her core campaign promises.
Speaking to an audience including members of the New Jersey Education Association, Governor Whitman proposes major education reforms, suggesting altering teacher tenure to incorporate a recertification program and using tuition vouchers to allow school choice in troubled urban districts.
Facing mounting losses, Governor Whitman freezes payments made by the Market Transition Facility, the successor to the Joint Underwriting Association, the state-run auto insurance system.
Fulfilling a campaign promise echoed in her inaugural speech, Governor Whitman signs legislation reducing taxes by 5% across the board and eliminating taxes for the first $7,500 of earnings for all New Jerseyans.
Governor Whitman proposes a $15.3 billion budget that would reduce spending from the previous year, along with an additional tax cut program targeting the middle class. To partially pay for the reduction in tax revenues, she suggests eliminating the Department of Higher Education, Office of Public Advocate and state support of New Jersey’s public television network.
The Asbury Park Press releases a public opinion poll reporting that 78% of those surveyed rate Governor Whitman as doing a good or excellent job in office, among the highest ratings ever recorded for a New Jersey governor.
Avoiding a split between Republican leadership in the two legislative chambers, Governor Whitman forges a plan to balance the state budget by reducing payments to public pension plans substantially and shifting these contributions to the employees.
Governor Whitman nominates James H. Coleman, Jr. to the State Supreme Court. When confirmed, Coleman becomes the first African American to sit on the state’s highest court.
Education Commissioner Leo F. Klagholz unveils a plan to provide school vouchers to parents of students in Jersey City, effectively subsidizing the costs of attending private and parochial schools.
Following a devastating explosion at the Durham Woods apartment complex in Edison caused by work crews damaging an underground gas pipe, Governor Whitman signs legislation requiring contractors who are digging near utility pipelines to notify authorities in advance and establishing a phone number contractors can call to learn the location of underground pipes.
Governor Whitman signs “Megan’s Law,” a series of nine bills designed to monitor, track and warn the community about the presence of sex offenders. The laws exceed federal standards and set a national model for sex offender legislation.
Completing changes first envisioned in the 1947 state constitution and approved by voters in a 1992 referendum, Governor Whitman signs legislation shifting nearly 8,000 county employees working in the court system to the state payroll. The move reduces county and local costs, while allowing for a more equitable application of the justice system throughout the state.
Governor Whitman presides at the grand opening of the Interstate 295 “skyway” that completes the I-95 corridor, stretching from Maine to Florida.
Delivering her first State of the State address, Governor Whitman proposes a third round of tax cuts. She also announce a delay in the implementation of the Jersey City school voucher program to provide a further year of study.
Governor Whitman signs legislation authorizing $10 million to purchase land in New York State that will be preserved as virgin forest. The land is a watershed that runs into streams and reservoirs that provide water for more than 2 million northern New Jersey residents.
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich selects Governor Whitman to deliver the Republican rebuttal to President Bill Clinton’s State of the Union Speech. The choice is testimony to the national prominence Governor Whitman attained during her first year in office.
Delivering her annual budget address, Governor Whitman proposes a third round of tax cuts that would allow the state to meet her goal of reducing taxes by 30% a year ahead of schedule. She proposes a $16 billion budget that would trim the state work force and keep municipal aid flat.
Chief of Staff Judith L. Shaw resigns from the Whitman administration. Chief Counsel to the Governor, Peter Verniero, takes over as Governor Whitman’s new Chief of Staff.
Margaret M. Foti assumes the role of Chief Counsel to the governor.
Governor Whitman announces a new urban agenda, calling for the creation of neighborhood-based development groups that would seek money from private and non-profit groups. These neighborhood groups would submit revitalization plans to the newly created Governor’s Urban Coordinating Council, which would help streamline the application process and cut through red tape. Ultimately 16 neighborhoods in 16 cities enroll in the program.
Governor Whitman announces that the state will recycle state mortgage bonds and refine construction rules, enabling New Jersey housing agencies to invest more than $500 million in urban and suburban low and middle-income housing.
Governor Whitman signs two bills into law aiding families fighting AIDS. The first allocates funding for the construction of 44 housing units for people with AIDS and their families, and the other allows parents with AIDS to appoint guardians for their children without giving up their parental rights.
Governor Whitman appoints former Governor Kean, now president of Drew University, as chairman of her advisory committee on school vouchers. The panel is designed to study the voucher issue and propose legislation in time for implementation in the fall of 1996.
Using a conditional veto, Governor Whitman alters a bill passed by the legislature that would mandate that violent offenders convicted three times face life imprisonment. Citing the costs to the state for lifetime incarcerations, Governor Whitman limits the number of violent offenses that would make an offender eligible for life imprisonment and also adds a clause allowing for parole at the age of 70 for offenders who have already served 35 years and received a unanimous recommendation from the parole board. The legislature concurs.
Governor Whitman announces a broad overhaul in the juvenile justice system, allowing judges to incarcerate a juvenile offender based upon the risk posed to the public, and also holding parents financially accountable for crimes committed by their children.
Governor Whitman signs into law a bill permitting families of victims to speak to juries during death penalty deliberations. Previously only the family of the defendant was permitted to talk to jurors.
Governor Whitman signs a bill requiring insurers to provide a second day of hospital care for mothers and their newborns, making New Jersey the second state in the nation to regulate “Drive-through deliveries.”
Governor Whitman signs five bills aimed at making the state friendlier to business by limiting civil lawsuits. Included in the measures are provisions that limit the amount of punitive damages defendants can be forced to pay, protecting businesses against “joint and several liability.”
Choosing a symbolic date, Independence Day, Governor Whitman signs the second half of her proposed 30% state income tax cut into law, producing her promised cuts a year earlier than originally anticipated.
Governor Whitman reaches a settlement with two unions, renegotiating state employee contracts to include temporary pay freezes and requiring employees who enroll in traditional health insurance to help pay for it.
Governor Whitman signs into law a bill hailed by environmentalists as a major victory for improving the air in New Jersey. The bill streamlines the process for operating a business in New Jersey and rewards plants with lower-emissions by allowing them to amass energy credits they can sell to higher-producing companies.
Governor Whitman signs a bill expanding the state’s bias crimes law, adding protections for those harassed or intimidated because of their sex or disability. The existing law limited protections to those intimidated because of their race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.
Governor Whitman signs a bill requiring insurance companies that provide Medigap coverage for the elderly on Medicare to extend that coverage to disabled people age 50 and over.
Governor Whitman signs legislation intended to rein in school administrative costs in New Jersey, the state with the highest average administrative costs per student in the nation. The plan withholds state aid from districts that exceed average administrative costs by more than 30%, while rewarding those that keep administrative costs down.
Governor Whitman signs a bill that limits the admissibility of evidence in rape cases. The new law bars the use of evidence of what a woman was wearing or how she appeared at the time she was raped. These provisions join the existing rape-shield law that bars the admission of a woman’s sexual history as evidence during trial.
Governor Whitman signs a bill reducing the corporate tax rate in New Jersey from 9 percent to 7.5 percent for businesses that net $100,000 or less, making the state’s rate the lowest in the Northeast.
Governor Whitman declares a drought emergency for the first time in a decade in New Jersey. The order limits the use of water in more than 100 northern New Jersey communities.
In the New Jersey midterm elections, the Republican Party maintains control of both chambers of the legislature. The GOP keeps its 24-16 majority in the Senate while losing just 3 seats in the Assembly, decreasing the Republican majority in that chamber to 50 of the 80 seats.
Governor Whitman negotiates a contract with the state’s largest union of state workers, again lowering costs for the state. The new contract freezes employee pay for two years and requires employees to contribute toward their health insurance costs.
Governor Whitman signs legislation that reduces the state-mandated financial burdens on local governments by giving towns greater flexibility in setting police chiefs’ salaries, publishing proposed ordinances and other changes. This is part of a push by the Whitman Administration, supported by a state ballot question, requiring that the legislature provides municipal authorities with money to pay for most state mandates.
During a speech at Trenton State College, Governor Whitman strongly endorses affirmative-action programs, saying that New Jersey has benefitted greatly both socially and economically from such programs operating in both the private and public sectors.
Governor Whitman agrees to provide state troopers to help patrol the streets of Camden. Despite blocking such a move earlier in the year, the Governor changes her mind following a state study showing that the beleaguered city’s police force needs help.
Governor Whitman places greater force behind holiday warnings against drunk driving, signing into law a bill that requires prison sentences for drivers causing deaths while intoxicated or after losing their licenses for drunken driving. An additional bill authorizes the police to confiscate the license plates of anyone found driving with a license that has been suspended for drunk driving.
The state Senate passes legislation overhauling the system arbitrating disputes involving members of police and fire unions. The proposal passes on the final day of the legislative session, giving a major policy victory to Governor Whitman, who had strongly supported the plan,.
Governor Whitman signs legislation making New Jersey the 20th state to permit charter schools, which are privately run but publicly financed.
Governor Whitman delivers her annual budget to the legislature, proposing a $15.98 billion budget that lowers overall state spending by enacting cuts in almost every state agency.
Arguing that privately run health maintenance organizations can operate more efficiently, Governor Whitman decides to sell New Jersey’s Garden State Health Plan to the AmeriChoice Corporation for $15 million. The plan, operated by the state since 1987, provides managed care services to Medicaid recipients and now serves more than 30,000 New Jerseyans.
Governor Whitman signs legislation extending the deadline for filing lawsuits against companies that produced tainted blood products for 500 hemophiliacs in the state who subsequently contracted AIDS or H.I.V. The typical deadline for filing a lawsuit is two years following the discovery of the injury, but the new deadline will be two years from the publication of a National Institute of Medicine report that said that manufacturers knew early on that H.I.V was being transmitted through blood and could have done more to prevent it.
Governor Whitman also signs legislation preventing state officials from imposing costly new laws or administrative rules on school districts and municipal or county governments. This legislation enforces a public question, passed by a 2 to 1 margin, and approves a constitutional amendment forcing the state to pay for anything mandate it places upon local or county governments.
Ending 17 years leading the State Supreme Court, Chief Justice Robert N. Wilentz announces his retirement. Governor Whitman immediately nominates Deborah T. Poritz, her attorney general, as the next chief justice. The Governor also nominates Peter Verniero, her chief of staff, to become the next attorney general.
Governor Whitman announces that she will support a $300 million bond issue on the November ballot that proposes to dredge the Newark and Elizabeth ports, but will oppose the other bond issues financing construction of housing, new prisons and schools.
Governor Whitman signs her third state budget into law, lowering taxes for the third year in a row and reducing spending in almost every state agency.
In a move to benefit both casinos and taxpayers, Governor Whitman unveils a massive roadway and tunnel project that will increase access into Atlantic City. The plan, scheduled to cost at least $405 million in both private and state money, would ease access to the casinos in Atlantic City, increasing tourism and tax revenues from the booming casino industry.
With Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” blaring in the background, Governor Whitman signs a $100 million property tax relief bill at a celebration on the Point Pleasant boardwalk. The plan allows taxpayers to deduct rent or property tax payments from their income on their tax returns.
The first woman to serve as chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, Deborah T. Poritz, is sworn into office.
Governor Whitman signs legislation creating the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, which will have the power to issue bonds, borrow money and issue loans for construction and development in urban areas. The authority seeks to funnel up to $100 million a year into redevelopment of New Jersey’s urban spaces.
Before a crowd of Korean War veterans, Governor Whitman establishes the Korean Veterans’ Memorial Committee, providing $25,000 in seed money.
Governor Whitman signs legislation that will allow municipal governments and sewer authorities to improve the treatment of wastewater and control the pollution that drains out of their local watersheds through low-cost loans from the state’s Water Treatment Trust and issuance of new bonds. The project aims to invest up to $140 million in upgrading sewage treatment in New Jersey.
Following the tragic death of a 7-year-old Trenton girl who was run over by a school bus she had just left, Governor Whitman signs a law requiring every school bus to be equipped with a crossing control arm, a device that prevents students from crossing directly in front of the bus and allows drivers to see pedestrians in front of them. The bill also provides $2 million to install the devices.
Appropriating the first money from the latest Green Acres Bond Act, Governor Whitman provides $173 million to preserve and develop open spaces and parks and to acquire watershed areas, adding 24,000 acres to the state’s parks.
As part of Governor Whitman’s efforts to provide affordable housing in Camden, workers begin demolishing an entire block of abandoned, dilapidated brick town houses built in the 1880’s. Once removed, the townhouses will be replaced with new three-bedroom houses that will be sold to low- and moderate-income families.
Surrounded by over 100 police officers, Governor Whitman signs legislation prohibiting the parole of anyone convicted of murdering an on-duty law enforcement officer. The new law also eliminates liability for officers who assist at the scene of an accident or emergency.
Responding to reports that social workers responsible for protecting children were overburdened with unacceptably high case loads, Governor Whitman decides to hire an additional 120 new case workers immediately. The new hires will reduce the average caseload by over 10% per worker.
Governor Whitman proposes legislation to overhaul the state’s welfare program by shifting about $150 million in spending to childcare, transportation, job placement and other support services to help move welfare recipients into the workplace. Softening some of the harshest provisions in the federal welfare law, the Governor’s proposal would continue cash benefits and Medicaid payments for legal immigrants, and extend the five-year limit on benefits for people who lose their job through no fault of their own.
In a bid to renovate the dilapidated State House dome, the Governor’s husband, John Whitman, is put in charge of a fund-raising campaign seeking $2 million from corporations to renovate the dome. The Treasury Department will add $10 million as well.
Governor Whitman reports that improved workplace safety and reduced medical costs will allow the state to reduce premiums for worker’s compensation by over 11 percent, while still increasing benefits paid to injured workers. The changes will save New Jersey employers $218 million.
Governor Whitman announces that two major employers, Lucent Technologies and Coopers & Lybrand, are expanding operations in New Jersey, adding over 1000 new jobs in the state.
In an attempt to control the costs of providing medical care to the poor, Governor Whitman announces a new plan that requires hospitals to manage the care of uninsured patients who have little choice but to go to emergency rooms. Under the plan, hospitals can direct patients with chronic conditions to more cost-effective care centers, such as regular doctor visits.
Governor Whitman signs a major legislative overhaul of public education, establishing core curriculum standards and setting a minimum level of spending per student, $7,200. While wealthier districts are still free to spend additional money on education, this plan designates a basic minimum of standards and spending in classrooms in the state.
The Whitman administration outlines plans for the largest bond sale in the state’s history, a $3.4 billion bond for the state’s pension system. By borrowing the money, the administration is seeking to avoid making deep budget cuts in an election year and still eliminate the state’s unfunded liability account.
Delivering her third State of the State speech, Governor Whitman cites “three years of activity and accomplishment.” In addition to proposing major initiatives to continue urban redevelopment, Governor Whitman also proposes overhauling regulations for automobile insurance to allow motorists who give up their right to sue for pain and suffering after an accident to be eligible for reduced policy premiums.
The Whitman administration announces plans to sell the State Disability Benefit Fund, which distributes about $325 million annually to New Jersey workers who are temporarily disabled as a result of sickness or injury unrelated to their jobs. The sale could generate as much as $200 million in one-shot revenue and would have no discernible impact on enrollees.
Governor Whitman delivers her annual budget address, proposing a $16.4 billion budget that maintains or increases spending in most areas. Additional spending is proposed for education, the environment, prisons, and an initiative to assist legal immigrants in becoming citizens (and thus eligible for Federal welfare money.)
The Senate Judiciary Committee approves Governor Whitman’s choice for transportation commissioner, John J. Haley, after he pledges to become a full-time New Jersey resident within 60 days. Haley had been acting commissioner since Frank J. Wilson resigned in November.
New York City officials postpone plans to dump 500 million gallons of raw sewage into the East River during repairs to an aging city sewage treatment system after Governor Whitman makes a last minute phone call to New York Governor George E. Pataki. Governor Whitman, working with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, was prepared to seek an injunction in federal court to block the dumping in order to protect shellfish beds and avoid other environmental problems on the Jersey Shore.
Governor Whitman signs a bill recognizing professional wrestling as a form of entertainment and not a sport. By doing so, the state is able to deregulate the industry and eliminate a special tax it had been charging for televised wrestling events.
Governor Whitman enacts a major welfare reform law, barring recipients from collecting benefits for more than five years and requiring them to find a job within two years of receiving welfare benefits. The program provides incentives and job training to ease the transition to full-time work.
Governor Whitman signs a bill that will require convicted sex offenders to pay for their own DNA tests. The state began testing offenders in 1995 under “Megan’s Law” but the state had only been able to collect about $1 million of the $100 million in various fees associated with the test. The new legislation permits the state to place a lien upon the inmate’s property.
Governor Whitman signs “Joan’s Law” into law, barring parole for child molesters who kill their victims.
New Jersey’s education commissioner, citing a ruling by the state attorney general, bars a suburban school board from using tax money for vouchers that would pay for private tuition. The plan, supported by Governor Whitman, would have been the first suburban voucher plan in the nation, but ran afoul of state law.
Voters in nearly 70 percent of New Jersey school districts facing new state limits on their spending reject the restrictions and approve higher budgets sought by local school officials. Governor Whitman declares that, “The sky did not fall as the doomsayers predicted. The results indicate that the process worked exactly as it was supposed to.”
Governor Whitman also signs five bills intended to protect patients and increase security at the state’s psychiatric hospitals into law. The bills require multiple unannounced inspections at the hospitals each year, force hospitals to report any allegations of patient abuse or staff misconduct, and require criminal background checks for all hospital employees.
Governor Whitman announces that the state will spend $8.5 million to expand childcare programs and improve the quality of early childhood education. The plan will be funded by saving from the State Department of Human Services budget and some federal grants, and thus does not require legislative approval.
Governor Whitman nominates James A. DiEleuterio to become the next state treasurer following the resignation of Brian W. Clymer.
Woodbridge Mayor James E. McGreevey wins the Democratic gubernatorial primary and will face Whitman in the general election. On the same day, Governor Whitman announces the state will spend $22 million to purchase and preserve 42 farms, adding 6,500 acres to the state’s Farmland Preservation program.
The state legislature approves a $2.75 billion bond deal aimed at closing gaps in the state pension system deficit.
Governor Whitman conditionally vetoes a bill passed by the Republican-controlled legislature that would ban a type of late-term abortion, saying that she would sign the bill only if it includes an exception allowing the procedure to protect a woman’s health.
Governor Whitman signs a $16.8 billion budget that increases spending by $800 million, with increases in most state agencies budgets and no new layoffs of state workers planned.
In response to a series of high profile cases where young mothers abandoned their newborn babies, Governor Whitman announces a new $1.1 million program that will use advertisements to urge teen-agers to avoid pregnancy, create a statewide telephone program to assist parents at risk of neglecting their children, and provide mentoring and counseling programs.
Seeking to help welfare recipients overcome one of their biggest challenges to finding work, Governor Whitman announces a plan to spend $3.7 million providing free NJ Transit bus and train passes to welfare recipients for two months after they have found work.
Governor Whitman orders automobile insurance rates frozen at their current levels until the end of the legislative session in order to give lawmakers time to reconsider her proposals to offer New Jersey drivers the chance to pay lower rates in exchange for giving up their right to sue for pain and suffering following an accident.
Governor Whitman signs a bill speeding the deregulation of the utility industry in the state. New Jersey’s energy rates, among the highest in the nation, would drop as deregulation encouraged new energy companies to move to the state.
Governor Whitman signs a bill authorizing $10 million for developing 100 acres along the waterfront at Liberty State Park and $78 million to turn the Ross Dock at the foot of the George Washington Bridge into parkland.
Governor Whitman signs a bill making it illegal for private clubs to have separate tee times for women golfers. The bill forbids private clubs from giving preferential treatment to members based upon race, sex, religion or sexual orientation.
Governor Whitman signs into law three bills providing stronger drug-sentencing guidelines to the court system, creating serious penalties for using booby traps against law enforcement agents and allowing prosecutors to seek liens on properties belonging to those convicted of dealing in large amounts of drugs.
Governor Whitman issues Executive Order 72, creating the Study Commission on the Implementation of the Death Penalty to investigate how to streamline the death penalty process in New Jersey.
Governor Whitman also signs the nation’s strongest protections for users of managed-care programs into law. The bill bars managed care programs from offering financial incentives to doctors for limiting treatment and forces companies to offer members the option of paying extra to select their own doctors.
Governor Whitman signs a new law setting a possible 20-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of rape when the victim was incapacitated from a so-called “date-rape” drug.
Responding to recommendations from the Parole Study Commission, Governor Whitman signs seven bills into law updating the state’s parole laws, last reviewed in 1979. The bills allow crime victims to ask parole boards to impose specific conditions before their assailants are released on parole and also allow terminally ill inmates convicted of non-violent crimes to seek early release.
Prompted by the wrongful conviction of David Shephard, who spent 11 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Governor Whitman signs a bill into law allowing the wrongfully convicted to sue the state for compensation. Compensation will be $20,000 per year in prison, or twice the person’s income in the year before imprisonment, whichever is greater.
Governor Whitman issues Executive Order 74, extending food stamp coverage to legal immigrants who are children, elderly or disabled even after the federal government stops paying for them.
Alongside New York Governor Pataki, Governor Whitman unveils a joint project between New Jersey, New York and federal officials to restore and protect New York Harbor, as well as the streams and rivers that empty into it, and the ocean waters stretching from Montauk Point, NY to Cape May, NJ. The plan is the most ambitious regional attempt to clean up harbor and ocean waters; it will cost billions of dollars and take nearly two decades to implement fully.
Governor Whitman reveals plans for a 72,000 square-foot convention center to be built in Wildwood, replacing a hall that was built in 1971. The hall will be built with a mix of funds provided by the state’s Economic Development Authority, Wildwood’s tourism tax, and the Sports and Exposition Authority.
Governor Whitman wins re-election, defeating Democrat James E. McGreevey by a margin of 1 percentage point, 50-49. The main focus of her re-election campaign is her record of reducing taxes, crime rates and raising education spending in her first term and her intent to slow the growth of auto insurance rates in the state and lower high property tax rates in the future.
William H. Fauver, the longtime head of the State Department of Corrections, submits his resignation after serving four governors for two decades.
The General Assembly votes to override Governor Whitman’s veto of the late-term abortion ban. The Assembly votes 60 to 15 for the override, safely exceeding the 54 votes necessary to overturn the veto. The bill moves to the Senate for their override attempt.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sends a strongly worded message to Governor Whitman, declaring that some highway funds could be lost if New Jersey does not speed up its plans for an enhanced auto emission testing program.
After one senator switches his vote, the State Senate votes to override Governor Whitman’s veto of the late-term abortion ban, marking the first time the Republican-controlled legislature has overridden a Whitman veto. The Senate vote is 27-13, with bipartisan support.
Agreeing to an 18-month trial, Governor Whitman reaches a compromise with the legislature to increase the speed limit on lengthy sections of several New Jersey highways from 55 to 65 miles per hour. The governor had initially opposed the increase, but agrees to an 18-month trial period that will allow the state to study the effect of the higher speed limit on highway safety.
Governor Whitman signs a bill freezing property taxes at 1997 levels for low-income elderly and disabled residents.
In her second inaugural address, delivered at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, Governor Whitman commits to redeveloping the state’s urban spaces, while also laying out an ambitious plan to preserve one million acres for open space, accounting for nearly half the undeveloped land in New Jersey.
Governor Whitman announces that the state will spend $4 million of federal money on new sex education programs, but the money will only be available to private, nonprofit groups and municipal health departments. The state’s new curriculum standards require public schools to teach about various forms of contraception, making the schools ineligible for the federal funds, which are tied to abstinence-only education.
Governor Whitman signs two bills into law to help officials collect some of the $1.4 billion that parents owe for child support. The laws grant authority to track evaders using databases such as cable television subscriptions and bank accounts and to use paternity tests to determine who must pay support.
Governor Whitman announces a 10-year tourism master plan emphasizing the state’s cultural and rural attractions and continuing the state’s slogan, “New Jersey and You…Perfect Together” with a redesigned logo.
In a major victory for the Whitman administration, the state Supreme Court rules that the state is meeting its obligation to provide a “thorough and efficient” education. The ruling caps a 28-year legal battle over the quality of public education for urban school children.
Settling more than 160 years of dispute, the United States Supreme Court rules 6-3 in New Jersey’s favor, declaring that Ellis Island belongs to the Garden State, rather than New York.
Governor Whitman signs into law a measure that doubles the prison time and increases fines tenfold for those convicted of carrying a weapon while committing a drug offense. The new law creates a maximum sentence of up to 10 years and authorizes fines of up to $150,000.
Governor Whitman signs an $18.1 billion state budget into law, while using her line-item veto to eliminate over $40 million in legislative spending and language prohibiting her from turning public employee jobs over to private contractors. The budget, which benefits from a booming economy, increases spending on public schools, state colleges and universities, and preservation of open spaces while putting $700 million into a “rainy day fund.”
Governor Whitman adds her signature to two bills appropriating $11.5 million for the preservation of historic sites. Included in the 30 sites designated for preservation is Morven, the former governor’s mansion and former home of Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Governor Whitman signs a series of bills requiring that convicted sex offenders receive treatment before they are released if there is likelihood that they will repeat their crimes.
Governor Whitman signs a bill prohibiting insurers from denying benefits for injuries caused by domestic violence. The bill prevents insurers from classifying abuse claims as preexisting conditions.
Responding to a New Jersey Supreme Court decision, Governor Whitman proposes one of the largest building programs in New Jersey history, proposing to spend $5.3 billion to build or repair hundreds of schools throughout the state.
Governor Whitman nominates Rev. Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries, a minister who advised her on urban redevelopment, to be New Jersey’s next secretary of state.
Governor Whitman and legislative leaders reach an agreement on a plan to cut commercial and residential electricity rates by 10 percent over the next three years and deregulate the state’s energy market.
In her fifth State of the State address, Governor Whitman asks the legislature to enact a 5-year $1 billion property tax relief package by April 15, so taxpayers would get their rebates by Labor Day.
Setting forth a $19.16 billion budget, Governor Whitman takes advantage of a surge in tax revenues caused by a thriving economy. While increasing spending on public schools, higher education, open space preservation and health care, the budget still finds room to send $200 million in property tax rebate checks to homeowners.
Governor Whitman nominates Christine Grant as the next commissioner of the State Health Department to replace Len Fishman, who has announced his resignation.
After the surprise resignation of Justice Stewart G. Pollock, Governor Whitman nominates Attorney General Peter Verniero to replace him on the New Jersey Supreme Court. She also nominates her chief counsel, John Farmer, to be the next attorney general.
Governor Whitman dismisses Col. Carl A. Williams, the superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, after a published report quotes him making racially charged comments.
Governor Whitman signs her property tax rebate legislation into law, providing $1 billion in rebates for the next five years.
Facing the pending mandatory retirement of Justice Alan B. Handler, Governor Whitman nominates veteran judge Virginia Long to the New Jersey Supreme Court. When confirmed, Justice Long becomes the third woman on the state’s highest court.
Governor Whitman signs a $19.5 billion budget into law. The budget mixes both spending increases and tax cuts, benefiting from a healthy economy and surging tax receipts. Hours later the governor also signs off on a bill prohibiting girls under the age of 18 from obtaining an abortion unless their parents are notified, the first major abortion restriction passed in more than 20 years.
Governor Whitman signs legislation guaranteeing yearly increases to offset inflation in the cost of providing municipal services.
New Jersey’s crime rate is reported to have decreased by 9% in 1998, the largest one-year decrease ever recorded since the state began collecting crime data uniformly in 1965.
Dispelling widespread expectations that she would run for the United States Senate seat being vacated by longtime Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Governor Whitman announces that she will not run for the office. Citing the need to raise millions of dollars, the governor declares that the attempt would be, “a distraction from doing the work New Jersey voters had asked me to complete.”
Preparing for New Jersey to be hit by Hurricane Floyd, Governor Whitman declares a state of emergency in anticipation of flooding. The hurricane drops more than 13 inches of rain in some areas, pounding the state with 62 mile-per-hour winds and producing record flooding in many areas.
Governor Whitman appoints Carson Joseph Dunbar, Jr. to be the new superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. The first African American to hold the post, Dunbar brings long experience with the FBI to a force that has been battered by allegations of discrimination and racial profiling.
Governor Whitman signs a bill into law that requires all new handgun purchases to be accompanied by trigger locks, making New Jersey the fourth state to require such purchases.
In New Jersey’s midterm elections, the Republican Party continues its full control of the legislature, maintaining its 24-16 majority in the State Senate and retaining a 45-35 majority in the Assembly, despite losing three seats.
As the year 2000 approaches, Governor Whitman declares the state prepared for the New Year. The “Y2K bug” caused panic among many who feared that vital systems would shut down as computers failed on the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2000. In response, New Jersey triples the number of police officers on patrol, activates National Guard troops in state armories, and has Emergency Management operations on stand-by.
Completing four years of negotiations, Governor Whitman and the New Jersey Nature Conservancy announce that 4,000 acres in the Pinelands will be preserved as open space in return for allowing building elsewhere.
Governor Whitman nominates Jaynee LaVecchia, the state’s banking commissioner, to the New Jersey Supreme Court following the retirement of Justice Marie T. Garibaldi.
In her sixth annual address to the legislature, Governor Whitman recommends spending $100 million to turn high technology into the “undisputed engine” of economic growth in the state, and she reaffirms her commitment to boosting the economy, education and the environment in the state.
Governor Whitman signs a bill into law allowing police officers to stop drivers and issue fines for not wearing seat belts. The governor also allowed a measure to die that would have made it a crime for teenagers to smoke, arguing that “education is more effective than criminalization.”
Governor Whitman unveils a $21.2 billion budget that increases spending by creating new programs, spending more on existing programs and laying out ambitious school and highway construction projects, while also proposing new tax cuts.
A new crime report covering the first six months of 1999 shows a 10 percent drop in reported crimes statewide, with reports of murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault hitting their lowest levels since 1976.
After years of investigations and studies, Governor Whitman announces that the state will close the Greystone Park Psychiatric Park in Parsipanny, the largest center for the mentally ill run by the state. The hospital had been plagued by escapes, assaults on patients, and substandard care.
Governor Whitman officially breaks ground on a light rail line connecting Camden and Trenton.
Ending an 18-month stand-off that had blocked billions of dollars in projects, Governor Whitman and New York Governor Pataki reach an agreement over the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Under the agreement, New Jersey will expand shipping operations at the Elizabeth Marine Terminal and New York will sell or lease the World Trade Center to private interests and be able to lease air rights over the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Governor Whitman unveils a $41.2 million financing package to build hundreds of houses in a blighted neighborhood in Camden as part of her ongoing project to redevelop the struggling city.
Governor Whitman signs a $21.4 billion state budget into law, increasing state spending by 10% over the previous year. The budget includes a $45 million tax cut for low-income families and “FamilyCare,” a plan to use part of the tobacco settlement money to help provide health insurance for 125,000 New Jerseyans.
Governor Whitman signs a bill providing $8.6 billion for school construction or renovation to be spent over the next 5 years. The bill, responding to a directive from the state Supreme Court, will spend $6 billion in financially disadvantaged urban districts and $2.6 billion elsewhere in the state.
Governor Whitman signs bills authorizing the preservation of farmland in five counties, bringing the total farm acreage preserved as open space to about 81,000 acres.
Governor Whitman signs legislation providing low-income families an earned-income tax credit, adding to the federal tax credit they already receive. The benefit will aid nearly a quarter-million New Jersey families earning less than $20,000 a year.
Governor Whitman announces that state assistance to help relocate the New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils from Continental Arena at the Meadowlands to a new arena to be built in downtown Newark will be limited to $75 million, far below the $123 million requested by the owners of the teams, YankeeNets.
Governor Whitman intervenes to stop the state’s first black bear hunt since 1970.
Governor Whitman signs a law eliminating the two-year statute of limitations in wrongful death suits, permitting families of murder or manslaughter victims to sue the attacker any time after the death of their relative.
Governor Whitman announces plans to expand a program begun with the state police, putting video cameras into all local police cars as well.
Governor Whitman signs a new law barring the use of ticket quotas as the chief factor in promoting police officers. Promotions can still use the number of tickets issued as part of the evaluations, but it can no longer be the principal component.
President-elect George W. Bush, in announcing his cabinet selections, announces his intention to nominate Governor Whitman to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
In her final annual address to the legislature, Governor Whitman recounts the successes of her administration, including a booming economy, lower taxes, decreases in poverty and crime rates, and thousands of acres of open space preserved.
Delivering her final budget message, Governor Whitman outlines a $23.2 billion budget that includes a record $1 billion set aside and doubling the property tax rebate.
The U.S. Senate approves President Bush’s nomination of Governor Whitman to be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
On her final day in office, Governor Whitman grants 12 pardons, issues three executive orders and grants $215 million in public money to help finance a new sports arena in downtown Newark.
Governor Whitman officially resigns as governor of New Jersey and Donald T. DiFrancesco, the Republican president of the State Senate from Scotch Plains, is sworn in as the fifty-first governor of New Jersey.