Christie orders special session for Thursday

At the end of an all nighter, lawmakers looking for the exits found only an invitation back to their chambers.

That’s because Gov. Chris Christie ordered a special joint session to convene this Thursday to address his proposed 2.5% property tax cap proposal and toolkit.

“New Jersey residents have waited far too long for property tax relief.  New Jersey families pay an average $7,281 in property taxes, up 70 percent in just 10 years,” Christie wrote in a letter to Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange). 

“The time to act is now.  We can no longer afford to wait for real, sustainable property tax relief.  That is why I have determined that the public interest requires this special session.”

Christie notified the two houses that the session would begin Thursday at 10 a.m.

Democrats were none to happy with Christie’s call for the session, vowing that the governor’s cap will never see the light of day.  The constitutional amendment would require voter approval and lawmakers would need to pass it by July 7 in order for it to appear on the November ballot, signaling what could be a long 4th of July weekend for lawmakers.

In an interview late Monday Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan (D-Union Twp.) said while the governor can force lawmakers to meet, he cannot force them to vote.

“He can’t force us and won’t force us because we won’t be voting on anything,” Cryan said.  “I can assure you of that.”

Late Monday and early Tuesday, both legislative houses approved a competing proposal to institute a 2.9 percent property tax cap, that included carve outs for pensions and healthcare.  That proposal, championed by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) not require an amendment to the consitution.  So far, Christie has not vetoed that proposal.