Yes, things got heated on the Assembly chamber floor yesterday, after Gov. Christopher Christie gave a tough speech outlining his plans to slash a $2 billion budget deficit. But that does not mean the Republican Governor has given up on trying to work with the Democratic legislative leadership, according to a spokesman.
“The governor has every intention of continuing to work in a bipartisan way. What happened yesterday and their comments are taking it further, I think. We were just under the gun to get some serious movement and get it done quickly,” said Michael Drewniak, Christie’s press secretary.
Democrats yesterday decried Christie’s use of an executive order to freeze $475 million in school aid as governing by fiat — a departure from the relatively tame relations between their party and the new governor over the last three weeks. They complained that they had been kept out of the loop, given only the vaguest details of planned cuts until just before Christie’s speech.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) said that, despite being promised details of specific budget cuts at 8am, she still did not have them by 10:30am — the scheduled start time of Christie’s speech. Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) said she had to walk into the Governor’s outer-office to request the details directly from Chrisie’s deputy chief of staff, Bill Stepien, at about 9:15am.
But Drewniak said that, though he snow storm impacted their communications structure, the four legislative leaders and budget committee ranking members were all emailed a detailed solutions list at 9:05am yesterday.
“We did the best we could under circumstances that were difficult at best,” said Drewniak. “…But to say that they didn’t receive that information, it’s just not true.”