As the senate budget committee prepared to discuss the 2011 plan, buzz around the hearing room said two Republican senators were ready to abandon the bill, leaving the deal struck Monday between Gov. Chris Christie Democratic legislative leaders in doubt.
Democratic sources said senator Jen Beck (R-Red Bank) and Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Washington Twp.) had pulled their support.
Beck did not return calls seeking comment on her reasons for apparently balking and Doherty flatly denied that he was on the fence, saying he planned to vote for the plan. But other GOP sources confirmed that both senators had expressed doubts about the budget and were waffling. One source initially described Doherty as “immovable.”
Any Republican defections could spell bad news for the fragile deal struck by lawmakers as sources told PolitickerNJ that Democratic leaders were not prepared to supply more than the initial four votes Republicans needed to pass the budget in the senate. Democrats are determined to force Republicans to own this budget and its consequences, but will provide the necessary votes to avoid a government shut down.
The apparent posturing by GOP senators follows reports that at least two assembly Republicans, Alison McHose (R-Franklin) and Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Twp.) had also bailed on the GOP, leaving the assembly short the necessary votes.
Initially, Doherty said he wouldn’t back the budget as long as the governor did not restore funding for Hagedorn Hospital. The governor restored the money, but the senator from rural Warren County all along voiced discomfort with Christie’s budgeting priorities.
Doherty believed the governor’s budget proposal unfairly punished the suburbs.
In March, he told PolitickerNJ.com he had serious questions about his district’s loss of state and municipal aid and questioned the governor’s formula, which Doherty believed disproportionately favors the cities.