Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) is firing back at Republican Gov. Chris Christie after he said the New Jersey Assembly needs to work instead of campaigning, asking specifically why no one ever questions Prieto on the subject.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
In a phone interview with Hudson County View, Prieto found it amusing that Christie, now also a presidential candidate, made his remarks during a speech to the New Jersey Commerce and Industry Association last week (h/t NJ Advance Media).
“On the 24th, I actually had Congress and Industry [officials] in my office talking about legislation. It’s kind of ironic, this is something I’ve been working on, in respect to many issues,” Prieto noted, adding that the transportation trust fund is just one example.
“But listen: if he’s willing to work on something, whether it’s transportation trust fund or anything, I’d clear my schedule any day of the week for him. For him to try and misdirect and say that we’re not [working], we’re actually working.”
“And he at one point said that he knows who his constituents are. I said ‘I know who mine are and who they aren’t: and they’re the people in New Hampshire and Iowa, which are the ones he’s been catering to for some time now.'”
Prieto further stated that was a “very, very misleading statement” to say that the Assembly hasn’t been working just because a meeting hasn’t taken place since June, since committees and voting sessions “are a small part of what we do,” also explaining that an Assembly session will take place next month.
Furthermore, one of the Garden State’s top Democratic leaders stated that Christie hasn’t taken action on over 70 bills since June, reminding residents that legislators typically work out of their district offices.
“He actually has 70-something bills sitting on his desk, where he has not taken action, from June. That is not doing the right thing, why hasn’t he taken those up right now?”
“We have meetings every week and I tell you, every legislator does most of their work out of their district office because that’s where they live … it just makes me laugh, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t working.”
Before the call ended, Prieto said he’d be happy to meet with Christie on a moment’s notice to discuss issues such as the transportation trust fund: as long as the location is in New Jersey.
“At the end of the day, once he gets back, we’re gonna try and link up and get something negotiated … we left the skeleton of what this plan is on the table, I can tell you, we wanted both Republican and Democratic support on it and there was no way they were doing this before the elections,” he stated firmly.
“Policy and politics are intertwined, if anybody tells you anything else, they are outright liars. At the end of the day, we need to see where we can come, somewhere at the middle of the road, get a plan that everybody can vote for – how do we do that?”
“I’ve been willing to entertain a sort of phasing out of the estate tax, but it needs to be given time so we would be able to cushion the blow of the hole that it would leave in the budget. I’m willing to work on that, if he calls me today, I’ll clear my schedule to meet with him anytime, anywhere as long as it’s in the state of New Jersey.”
Christie lashed out at Prieto and the Assembly partially in response to another NJ Advance Media story from August, which detailed that the presidential hopeful has been out of the state over 50 percent of the time this year.