Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) is unimpressed by Gov. Chris Christie filing a lawsuit against Atlantic City to ensure $34 million in payments to their board of education, stating I think the governor is “trying to bleed them out for money.”
“Well, there hasn’t been much compromise. I met with the governor today but he’s still ‘my way or the highway’ approach. What they did today, to go to court, for the payments for the school [board]: Atlantic City is making their payments,” Prieto said after the Hudson County Democratic Organization endorsed Hillary Clinton on Monday.
“I talked to their mayor today, they’ve been following the schedule of the local finance board set for them and they’re paying it in the manner they were asked to. So, they paid for March on April 1. They are actually on that schedule. I think the governor is trying to play a tactic, trying to bleed them out for money.”
Prieto also noted that Atlantic City has avoided a government shutdown, at least temporarily, by changing their payment plan from a 14-day billing cycle to a 28-day billing cycle for their city employees.
At a State House news conference, also on Monday, Christie said that the suit is to prevent Atlantic City students and families from becoming “collateral damage” to the city’s “reckless financial games,” per NJ Advance Media.
Push comes to shove, this strategy should allow Atlantic City, at worst, to stay fully operational until the end of the fiscal year in June.
“At the end of the day, the governor has to understand: you have to compromise. Democratic values, collective bargaining … you know, a sentence like ‘the state would be exempt from unfair labor practices,’ that’s unconscionable,” Prieto added.
“To take the civil liberties and democracy away from the residents of Atlantic City: that’s not right. I’m willing to compromise, put some benchmarks, let Atlantic City be able to try and do the right thing as all these unions and workers have been sort of coming to the able and negotiating.”
Concluding, Prieto again stressed that under Title 52, the State of New Jersey has the ability to intervene in Atlantic City’s monumental $437 million financial crisis – a point that he and Christie have gone back and forth about on several occasions now.
Christie, who has urged Prieto to “stop playing politics” and post the Atlantic City takeover bills in the state Assembly’s voting session on Thursday, is hosting a news conference from Atlantic City this morning to reveal the latest developments in this ongoing struggle.
The Republican governor has repeatedly accused Prieto of playing politics on behalf of Fulop, who is expected to make gubernatorial run next year against a handful of candidates including Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) – who has already seen the Atlantic City takeover bill pass through the state Senate.
One week after stating that Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s leadership would be great on the statewide level, Union City Mayor/state Senator Brian Stack (D-33) said yesterday it would be “irresponsible” for Prieto not to post the Atlantic City takeover bill (h/t Politicker NJ).