Gov. Chris Christie aimed his sledge hammer at the state assembly today, telling reporters during a statehouse press conference that Democratic leaders were dragging their heels and wasting the people’s time.
‘It’s time for the adults to take charge and start getting work done that matters to the people of New Jersey,” Christie said.
The governor lashed out at a press conference called to announce the nomination of former Attorney General David Samson to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Asked about the assembly’s scheduled vote to attempt to override a veto of a homebuyer’s tax credit bill, Christie called it political theater and challenged the assembly to take up issues that matter.
“They had the override of women’s healthcare, they played that theater out. Now they are playing this theater out. Listen, get to work on the things that matter to the people of the state,” he said.
The governor chastised the assembly and Speaker Sheila Oliver for failing to act more aggressively on his 33-point tool kit, which he said is designed to help the state’s mayors live within the cap on tax increases passed last summer.
Without the took kit, Chrisite said, mayors and township face catastrophic consequences as they attempt to live within the cap. In conversations with mayors, the freshamn governor said, they have told him the two most important elements of the kit are civil service reform and a bill that would cap arbitration awards at 2 percent per year to stay under the cap.
Christie pointed to Belmar, where an arbitrator recently awarded police a 15 percent over five years, which he called devastating to the township.
“How much more evidence do we need that the arbitration system has run amok and out of control and that arbitrators are acting in a way that disregards the law of the state,” he said.
Just prior to Christie’s press conference, the governor met with some 40 mayors from around the state who showed up on his doorstep in an effort to push for speedier passage of the tool-kit bills. Christie reportedly gave the mayors a similar talk, blaming Oliver and the assembly Democrats for stalling.
Mayor Dave Fried of Robbinsville said the mayors planned to fan out in the statehouse to begin lobbying lawmakers for passage of the bills. Without the tool-kit, Fried said, mayors are doomed come budget season as they try to stay under the cap but have few tools to help them.
Even as he kicked the assembly leadership, Christie had kind words for Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-West Deptford, who he said has kept his word by beginning work on the tool kit this month.
“Senator Sweeney and I have great communication with each other,” he said. “We don’t always agree but we talk to each other. We talk to each other all the time. He promised me that he’d get movement on these bills over the summer and he stood up to his promise.”
Christie said he and Sweeney have agreed to finish addressing the kit by December 31. The cap becomes law on January 1.
“I have no reason to believe that Senator Sweeney won’t stand by that,” Christie said.
Both the senate and the assembly are set to take up the first of the tool kit measures in sessions today.