Both the State Senate and General Assembly passed the bill that would blow a hole in municipal budgets for the next four years, the “extension” of the 2% Interest Arbitration Cap for police and firefighters base salaries that did not really cap those salaries. Had the bill become law, there would have been a massive cut in municipal services throughout New Jersey or property taxes would have started rising again at levels we experienced during the Corzine/Codey/McGreevey administrations.
But Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the bill and the Senate quickly concurred with the changes he made to the bill which kept the cap intact through December 2017 by a vote of 33-1. Christie’s office announced the conditional veto and the Senate’s concurrence in the same press release.
One has to wonder why the Senate went through the exercise of passing the “bad bill” in the first place, by a vote of 28-7, only to abandon the changes it made to the existing Interest Arbitration Cap and, for the most part, extend the existing law for another four years, so quickly. Without the Senate’s concurrence to Christie’s conditional veto, the cap on arbitration awards would expire on April 1st. Either the “bad bill” or the expiration of the cap would have been a victory for the Trenton Democrats benefactors in the police and firefighters unions.
The unions may still have their victory. Before the Assembly could take a vote on concurring with Christie’s conditional veto, Speaker Vincent Prieto abruptly adjourned the session. No Assembly session has been scheduled, yet, to take up the concurrence prior to April 1.
Below is a video of Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon’s floor speak before the chamber voted on the “bad bill.” As usual, O’Scanlon makes is case and fights for New Jersey taxpayers very well.
Governor Chris Christie will deliver his annual budget address to the legislature at 2pm this afternoon. The address can be viewed via livestream provided by NJTV here:
“A Choice of Attitude” is the theme of Governor Chris Christie’s FY 2015 budget address.
Christie will argue that state government spending as proposed in his budget is $2.2 billion lower than the fiscal 2008 state budget, save for the $2.25 billion pension payment budget for this year. He will call further pension reforms, arguing that the massive obligation to state employees prevents the government from spending on education, university research, energy, the environment and infrastructure. He will argue that pensions and entitlements must be reformed in order to prevent a looming crisis.
Christie says new taxes are not an option.
Excerpts of Christie’s address as released by the Governor’s office is below:
A 5th Balanced Budget Without Raising Taxes That Makes The Largest Pension Payment Ever
“My message to the federal government, get the resources where they are needed as fast as possible, as hard as possible and for the duration. Because the recovery process, obviously in a place like New Jersey is going to take a significant amount of time….
I told the mayors and the governors, if they are getting no for an answer somewhere in the federal government, they can call me personally at the White House.” ~ President Barack Obama, October 30, 2012
“On October 29 last year the job changed for me. It’s no longer a job, it’s a mission.
You see a mission is something that is different from a job. A mission is sacred. It’s a sacred trust that was thrust on me, and you, on October 29 of last year.
And that mission is to make sure that everyone, everyone in New Jersey that was affected by Sandy to return to normalcy in their lives.
I will not let anyone, anything, any governmental entity, or any force get in between me and the completion of my mission.” ~ Governor Chris Christie, November 5, 2013
Welcome back to Monmouth County, Governor Christie. We’ve been waiting for you.
Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and DCA Commissioner Richard Constable fingered by Zimmer
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer told MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki this morning that Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable threatened to deprive Hoboken of Sandy Relief funds if she did not secure a development approval for for a project favored by Governor Chris Christie.
The Rockefeller Group project hasn’t been approved and Hoboken has only gotten a small fraction of the Sandy Relief it requested. Port Authority Chairman David Samson’s law firm, Wolf and Samson, represents the Rockefeller Group.
Zimmer requested $127 million in aide for Hoboken, 80% of which was underwater after the Superstorm hit in October of 2012. The city has received $142,000 for a back up generator and $200,000 in recovery grants.
The governor’s office has denied the claims. Spokesperson Michael Drewniak issued the following statement to MSNBC:
“Mayor Zimmer has been effusive in her public praise of the Governor’s Office and the assistance we’ve provided in terms of economic development and Sandy aid,” Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak wrote in a statement. “What or who is driving her only now to say such outlandishly false things is anyone’s guess.”
Lt. Governor, Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, Legislators, friends, fellow New Jerseyans:
The last week has certainly tested this Administration. Mistakes were clearly made. And as a result, we let down the people we are entrusted to serve. I know our citizens deserve better. Much better.
I am the governor and I am ultimately responsible for all that happens on my watch – both good and bad.
Without a doubt we will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to ensure this breach of trust does not happen again.
But I also want to assure the people of New Jersey today that what has occurred does not define us or our state. This Administration and this Legislature will not allow the work that needs to be done to improve the people’s lives in New Jersey to be delayed. I am the leader of this state and its people and I stand here today proud to be both. And always determined to do better.
Now I come before you once again to report on the state of our state.
And today, the state of the state is good, and getting better.
The years are supposed to go by faster as we get older. 2013 missed the memo, at least for me. President Obama’s second Inauguration and Freeholder John Curley’s second swearing in seem like a long time ago.
Selikia Joshia Gore started us off in 2013 with a timeless call to renew our humanity; the ongoing struggle of saints and sinners to love one another regardless of standing, status or creed. It is a winning message that works only by embracing our failures without resigning to them.
The Governor. Governor Chris Christie started the year lambasting House Speaker John Boehner and the Congressional Republicans for playing politics with Superstorm Sandy aid and ended the year as the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. In between he built a bi-partisan and multi-cultural coalition that reelected him with over 60% of the vote in Blue Jersey. Christie had the best year of any politician in America. Only Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin had better years globally.
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. Menendez started the year on the losers list. Embroiled in a sandal of allegations of his cavorting with teenaged girls in the Dominican Republic and using the powers of his office to benefit the businesses of the donor who arranged the party, speculation was that he would resign as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, if not his Senate seat. Menendez seems to have survived an FBI investigation into his relationship with Dr. Saloman Melgan unscathed.
At the end of the year, Menendez’s position seems secure. He is the leading, and most powerful, critic of President Obama’s foreign policy. His approval ratings are net positive 22 points in the last Monmouth University Poll. He got engaged to be married earlier this month.
Given where he started, Menendez may have had the best 2013 of any New Jersey public figure, other than Christie.
The Gramiccionis. The Wall Township power couple had a very good year. In March, Christopher, the Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor and U.S. Naval Reserve Officer, received orders to report for a 9 month tour of active duty in Afghanistan effective in August. Those orders were canceled in July, keeping Chris on the job fighting crime in Monmouth County and home for the holidays. Deborah was appointed by Governor Christie to be the Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The job pays $289,657.
Monmouth County Republicans. Sheriff Shaun Golden, Freeholder Director Tom Arnone and Deputy Director Serena DiMaso were always expected to be reelected on the strength of their records and due to the fact that Monmouth County Independent voters usually vote Republican. They make the winners list by virtue of fact that they ran as if they were behind, not taking any votes for granted. More importantly, they ran a positive campaign based on reducing spending, holding the line on taxes, and improving services, in the face of yet another negative campaign on the part of the Monmouth County Democrats.
Monmouth County’s Legislative Delegation. Each member of Monmouth County’s Legislative Delegation deserves more recognition than space will allow.
Governor Christie: I wouldn’t characterize myself as angry Matt. It just you know, I don’t like when mistakes are made, because of the question you asked me, right? Like, are you ultimately responsible? Yeah. I mean it’s OK when I make the mistakes, you know, that I’m responsible. When others make the mistakes I’m you know, it bothers me. But I think anger would probably be a little bit too strong a word. Bothered probably would be the better word, you know? I was bothered by it but, you know, folks around here – when I’m angry you tend to be able to see it. I don’t hide it all that well. I’m not angry but I’m bothered when people make mistakes that wind up reflecting poorly on their performance, because their performance is the performance of this Administration, and so I’d rather have us all doing things well, and so I’m bothered whenever that happens. But, you know, as I said before, I commend Senator Baroni for his service, for his four years there. I know how hard that job is and he worked very hard at it. So did Mr. Wildstein at the job he had and, you know, it’s unfortunate for them that a mistake got made near the end of their tenure but, you know, that’s just the way life works sometimes and no, I wouldn’t call myself angry, but bothered, yeah. I mean, I’d rather not be doing this, but, you know, this is the job. So, you know, when you lead this is what you’ve got to deal with sometimes, but other times, you know, I’m standing behind here when the folks that work for me have done extraordinary things, herculean things, that I get to smile and stand here and put my arms around them and take credit for it. So if you’re going to do that you got to be prepared to do this too, and that’s OK. I’m a big boy. I can handle it.
Governor Christie: I am sending to the Port Authority somebody who has been one of my most trusted friends and advisors for the last ten years, and my instruction to her is the instruction that I have given to her in every task I’ve asked her to undertake for me, to use her best judgment, to put integrity first, and to make sure that she makes the tough decisions that need to be made in order to make sure that the taxpayers of this state and in the case of the Port Authority, the toll payers of the region are protected and respected. I want to thank Senator Baroni for his four years of service to the people of the state and of the region, and I look forward to changes that will result from Deb’s leadership along with Chairman Samson and the other Commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. So I’m going to introduce Deb to make some remarks and then I’ll come back to take your questions. Thanks Deb.
Deborah Gramiccioni: I would just like to thank the Governor for his continued faith in me. It has been an honor to work for the Governor the past ten years, first as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, then as director of the Authorities Unit and now as Deputy Chief of Staff. I also want to thank my policy team. I’m going to miss all of you, and I’m ready to get to work.