Budget debate takes back seat to Prieto v. Greenwald pompadour battle

TRENTON – Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-3) did the unthinkable on the floor of the Assembly this evening as Democrats and Republicans wearily went through the motions of alternately praising and badmouthing the Dems’ $31.7 billion budget.

Addressing Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-32), the chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee – Burzchelli suggested that Prieto has a pompadour worthy of more adoration than Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-6).

“He may have exceeded in hair style the previous chairperson,” Burzichelli said of Prieto, prompting giggles in the chamber. 

That was the only remark that departed from what was otherwise a scripted affair in which each side oozed unctious praise on the other – and then proceeded to beat holy hell on a partisan message.

“We should have sent a message that a tax cut is a priority,” complained Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-13), moments after Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-8) talked it up mightily.

And it went on like that.

Following Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick’s (R-21) celebration of the new era of Gov. Chris Christie, Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-36) savaged the notion that Christie represents fiscal prudence. He leaned on Christie’s projected revenue shortfall of $700 million vs. OLS’ estimated $1.4 billion.

“I support a tax decrease on the taxpayers…. of New Jersey, but I believe the people of New Jersey want a fiscally prudent and fiscally responsible legislature, one that does not make more promises based on rosy projections,” Schaer said.

Moments later, Greenwald rose.

“I’ll be brief,” he announced, prompting spasms of laughter throughout the chamber.

Greenwald paused – then went on offense against Republican Gov. Christie.

“Let’s be responsible,” said the majority leader, who denounced the Republican governor’s budgeting as a one note samba. “We will give tax cuts… the earned income tax credit. (But) The reality is let’s live within our means.”

Budget debate takes back seat to Prieto v. Greenwald pompadour battle