GOP budget bedlam

TRENTON – About 200 people herded into the Senate Budget chamber here wear mostly blank looks as Republican leadership tries to figure out what to do about state Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Washington Twp).

“We’re stalled,” said state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-ridge), chair of the budget committee, unable to resist cracking a grin.

While Sarlo amiably works the crowd here, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) sits in the governor’s office with the upper hand.

With Doherty out, the GOP needs another vote, but Sweeney won’t allow a swap for state Sen. Tom Kean (R-Westfield) without something in return.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Bob Gordon (D-Fairlawn) waits upstairs outside the Assembly Budget Committee hearing room. In his hand is a bill that is currently stalled, a bill that would unhinge big development in Teterboro.

That’s Sarlo’s bill, albeit without his immediately identifiable fingerprints.

And may be a reason why Gordon’s waiting.

He may be waiting to get the nod from Sweeney sources that the governor and the GOP will give on the Teterboro bill in exchange for Sweeney allowing Kean to sit for Doherty and vote for the budget supplemental bills Doherty can’t support.

But there are also other potential gimmees for Sweeney. 

Now Sarlo drops the gavel and faces the senate president, who’s testifying on his 2.9 percent cap option.

Doherty’s gone, and his seat remains empty, but hovering behind it sipping a Coke is Kean.

GOP budget bedlam