While Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) was pinned down by Gov. Chris Christie’s criticisms, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) went on the offensive against the governor, and called on Christie to spend less time agonizing over toolkit reform and more time ramrodding a shared services agenda.
Of course, Christie today didn’t altogether ignore Sweeney as a target, once again complaining that the senate president had told him the toolkit reforms would be ready in September, but now Sweeney acknowledged that the senate would act on needed reforms to binding arbitration and civil service laws.
Even as Assembly Democratic leadership cringed at the prospect of a hard cap, Sweeney said two of Christie’s four core reforms would move out of committee early next month, with final votes in the Senate to be scheduled for Nov 22. But Christie continues to overplay those reforms, Sweeney said.
“The simple and inconvenient truth for the Governor is that even if every item in his tool kit was enacted yesterday, property taxes would not be any lower today, tomorrow, next week or next year,” said Sweeney. “Some of these items can have some long-term savings, but the vast majority of these ideas are merely tinkering in the margins. The Governor needs to come clean with residents – the tool kit isn’t the end-all, be-all he says it is.
“Shared services and consolidations are the most powerful tools possible to control property taxes, but that option has often been ignored by the same local officials who protest the loudest that they can’t stay under cap,” said Sweeney. “Instead of pushing those local officials to do what’s right by property taxpayers, the Governor has decided to create division.”