TRENTON – Moments before Gov. Chris Christie arrives for this AARP conference, state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) seizes a microphone and grabs the attention of a big senior citizen crowd here at the Marriot, intensifying his own shared sacrifice mantra a day after Gov. Chris Christie backed off of senior prescription drug cuts.
“We have one difference with the governor – and that’s the millionaires’ tax,” says Sweeney. “We think 16,000 (millionaires) can help 600,000 (seniors) stay in their homes.
Sweeney takes credit for forcing Christie to restore the $55.5 million for seniors.
“I’m proud that that the Democratic leadership said no PAAD, no senior Gold, and the governor realized we were serious and he restored it,” Sweeney says.
“You know, shared sacrifice is a great message, and we are not going to back down and walk away. This millionaires’ tax is fair -it’s going to go to rebate programs for seniors. We’re talking about a $2,000 increase per senior from last year without the tax, versus an $11,000 decrease for millionaires.
Sweeney says the Democrats listened to Christie when they backed away from an increased tax on those making $400,000 because they didn’t want to hurt small business.
But the increased tax on those making $1 million and up – to pay for senior programs just makes sense, Sweeney argues.
“I don’t think it’s fair for seniors to lose their senior freeze and endure a constant attack on the people that can’t pay,” says the senate president. “At least the governor’s trying to find a way to restore it (PAAD and Senior Gold) now. We said ‘no way’ and you agreed with us and we fought back. Shared sacrifice is when everyone’s giving something up.”
Sweeney receives applause throughout.