Dems wrestling with their arbitration bill

TRENTON – A toolkit bill alternative may not reach the floor of the Assembly today.

Democrats are in caucus now and sources say they do not have the votes to pass Assembly Budget Chairman Lou Greenwald’s (D-Voorhees) arbitration reform bill, which skirts the hard two percent cap sought by Gov. Chris Christie and favored by Republican legislators.

This intra-party battle pits Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo against his ally, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange), who, like Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford), favors Greenwald’s bill.

DiVincenzo – and local executives like Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage and Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz – don’t want the Democrats’ bill, which may require every available vote to pass.

The absence today of Assemblyman Pat Diegnan (D-South Plainfield) may inhibit the bill’s progress on the floor of the Assembly, sources say.

The senate does not intend to hear the bill until next month, according to Sweeney.

In contrast to Christie’s hard cap on binding arbitration awards so salary increases do not exceed a 2 percent property tax levy, the Democrats’ bill would require an arbitrator to choose a contract award based on final offers from both labor and government, with the 2 percent cap a soft and not hard negotiating back stop. Dems wrestling with their arbitration bill