Sweeney: Special session “totally unnecessary”

Senate President Steve Sweeney reiterated his stance that the special session called by Gov. Chris Christie was nothing more than political theater playing to the national stage.

Sweeney accused the governor of auditioning for a spot on the GOP presidential ticket as Mitt Romney’s running mate.

“Obviously there is a national election going on and there is an open spot on the vice president’s page right now,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney stressed that the governor’s demand that legislators delay their summer recess to show up in Trenton today was unnecessary because any tax cut – even if passed today – would not go into effect until next year.

“This was completely unnecessary because we’ve already placed in the budget the money for a tax cut,” Sweeney said.  “Hopefully the people in this room will let the people in this state understand that what the governor is talking about is more theater for the national stage.”

Sweeney said he is “cheering” for the revenue projections put forth by the governor, which call for growth of some 7 percent over the next year.  Democrats have disputed the forecasts and have withheld legislation enabling a tax cut until they can gauge the state’s economic viability.

“I’m rooting him on on his revenue projections, I’m hoping they come true because if his revenue projections come true that means that people have gone back to work in this state,” Sweeney said.

The Senate President said he is gratified that the governor saw his way clear to calling for a property tax credit instead of the income tax credit he floated during his budget message in June.

The deal that was reportedly agreed to by Sweeney and Christie included a 10 percent credit against the first $10,000 of property taxes paid for taxpayers making less than $400,000.  Once the caucus determines the revenues for the cut will be there, Sweeney said he’s happy to provide one.  Too often governors have promised things they can’t deliver, Sweeney said, singling out former Republican Gov. Christie Todd Whitman, who he said provided a tax cut that has crippled the state ever since.

“We want to provide a tax cut, we all run for office and we all would love to provide a tax cut,” he said.  “We think we’ve come up with a responsible property tax cut, but what it comes down to is we have to make sure the money is there.”