A Democratic source familiar with the negotiations said Friday that there will not be a vote on funding the Transportation Trust Fund on Monday. That day marks the deadline for New Jersey State Senate President Sweeney (D-3) to clear the stumbling block of the TTF vote and post his own bill to require quarterly payments into the state’s underfunded public pension system.
Though Sweeney and Democratic chairmen statewide are facing pressure from the NJEA on moving the pension bill forward with a ballot question this year, the state’s largest teacher’s union will have to wait until 2017 unless two holdout votes for overriding Governor Chris Christie on the TTF change their minds over the weekend.
Christie favors a plan to offset the gas tax hike required to fund the TTF with cuts to the sales tax, a move that would blow too big of a hole into the state budget to accommodate accommodate Sweeney’s pension bill — $1.9 billion versus roughly $900 million for Sweeney’s preferred plan to offset the hike with a phase-out of the estate tax.
The vote, the source said, will most likely be delayed until October or November. Among the holdouts for a Senate override are Senators Shirley Turner (D-15) and Diane Allen (R-7), with no sign of change for the override’s slim chances in the Assembly. The lack of a veto-proof majority in his house led Speaker Vince Prieto (D-32) to cut the sales tax deal with Christie and post a successful bill, though he has since pivoted back to the Senate plan.