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Winners / Losers

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Each week in Face Time, NJBIZ editors approximate Chris Christie's mood and facial expressions based on the news.

FACE TIME: CENTERED

The governor finds himself in the creamy center of the Oreo with a budget address playing to left-leaning voters' concerns about Medicaid, pensions and bipartisanship. Might make him unpopular with the national GOP, but it puts him that much closer to re-election in blue Jersey.

WINNERS/LOSERS

Cory Booker – WINNER

It took him five years, but the mayor finally got a more palatable deal with the Devils than the one he inherited from Sharpe James. The city could raise up to $2 million a year in tax revenue, more useful than calling Jeff Vanderbeek a "highfalutin, high-class huckster."

Mildred Crump – LOSER

Or, you could handle the arena deal like the city councilwoman. She cast the lone vote against the Devils deal, still miffed the council wasn't given a free box to all events. Sure, the arena's created jobs, tourist traffic and positive attention for Newark, but what's in it for her?

Public workers – WINNER

Worth noting: Christie's budget plan includes a pension payment of roughly $1.7 billion. He's forced to throw that kind of money at a problem legislative Democrats created well before he was in office, but by dealing with it now, he puts a dent in an otherwise-runaway problem.

Power companies – LOSER

Profits at both JCP&L and PSE&G were off in the fourth quarter, as extra spending related to Hurricane Sandy response ate into their numbers. For JCP&L, it comes as the company makes its case for a rate hike; PSE&G, meanwhile, is chasing its $4 billion upgrade scheme.

South Jersey – WINNER

The casinos are going to make out great with the introduction of online gaming, but the region will see another important boost in real estate. That's because operators will need to build data centers here to make the operations run smoothly — a big win for largely undeveloped South Jersey.

Caesars Entertainment – LOSER

Sandy shut its four Atlantic City properties for five days, and its Philadelphia for two, so it's not really surprising the company lost $45 million in revenue for the fourth quarter. Usually, you have to have the word "Revel" in your name to ring up a disappointment that serious.

Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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