Democrats stand firm on weekend session. Sweeney in the house

The assembly budget committee said Friday it will continue to meet throughout the summer to discuss competing proposals for a cap on property tax hikes and other tax reform measures.

The Democrats who control the committee said they did not yet have enough information or input to make a decision on tax reform this weekend as Gov. Chris  Christie had ordered.

“This is a 30-year problem, and you’re not going to solve a decades-long problem over a three-day holiday weekend, especially when some of the departments cannot even come in to answer our questions,” said Assembly Budget Chairman Lou Greenwald (D-Vorhees).

Greenwald announced the Budget Committee will meet Wednesday, July 7; Thursday, July 15; and Wednesday, July 21 to continue considering property tax reform. A public hearing will also soon be announced.

The statement from Greenwald is the latest salvo in the war of words over tax reform.  Friday’s budget committee meetings in both houses were marked by harsh words from both sides of the aisle and the refusal of Democrats to continue debating the issue over the holiday weekend.  Chrisite and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) brandished competing legal opinions on whether the legislature was required to show for a second day after meeting for a special session Thursday.

Christie had threatened a lawsuit against the legislature to force the weekend sessions, while Sweeney refused to send his membership to Trenton for the 4th of July holiday.  Sweeney was in Trenton Saturday but by 11 a.m. was the only Democratic senator there. 

For their part, Republicans in both houses said they plan to show up at the statehouse today to continue discussing cap measures.

In the senate, budget committee Chairman Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) said the committee would convene again Thursday at 10 a.m.  Sarlo had called the governor’s urgency a “fake crisis” with a “fake deadline” touching off an argument with State Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Cedar Grove).  Sarlo said that municipal and school budgets were already set for 2010 so any reform measures passed by the legislature would not have any effect until next year.


Democrats stand firm on weekend session. Sweeney in the house