Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) went on offense today, saying that Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) “failure to act poses great risk to the state’s financial future” as two of NJ’s most powerful elected officials continue to slug it out over Atlantic City’s current financial crisis.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“This needs to be clear – Atlantic City is already under state supervision,” Prieto said in a statement. “We do not need an alternative to the unnecessary state takeover of Atlantic City, a move that would disenfranchise voters and trample collective bargaining rights.”
“The Local Finance Board and the Department of Community Affairs already have sufficient authority over the city’s finances to prevent a financial catastrophe. Gov. Christie needs to do his job.”
With Atlantic City, currently the Garden State’s only gambling resort, on the brink of a three-week shutdown starting on April 8, Christie and Prieto have gone head-to-head on how to bail AC out of their astronomical $437 million debt.
“Mr. Prieto wants to play public sector union politics for his own future political aspirations and the aspirations of the Hudson County political boss, Steve Fulop,” Christie said at a press conference on Monday, also stating that isn’t interested in negotiating with “two sets of Democrats.”
Prieto has been an unabashed supporter of Fulop in the past, most recently hyping him up as the best choice to succeed Christie in next year’s gubernatorial race – without coming out and saying it – and the two Democrats were also on the same page when it came to developing a plan North Jersey casinos.
The state Senate has recently approved both a PILOT bill and a state takeover bill for Atlantic City, with Christie emphasizing he would only sign the bills into law only if each one makes it onto it’s desk with the exact language it has now.
With that in mind, Prieto essentially accused Christie of grandstanding, since Atlantic City has been under state supervision since 2010, and under Title 52 – which has been state law since 1947 – which gives the state the power to intervene if a municipality is going to default on their debt payments.
“This agreement allows the state to compel financial actions by Atlantic City. It’s difficult to envision the state not exercising its authority to take control of the city’s finances and provide assistance, but for whatever reason, the governor is refusing to do so,” he added.
“The question must be asked – why is Gov. Christie failing to act? What is his motive?”
Atlantic City has become a volatile subject in the midst of state lawmakers fighting to bring casinos to North Jersey, a move that would likely be the death stroke for South Jersey gambling and entertaining according to one casino CEO.