2011 preview: tempers flare as lawmakers war over jobs bills

TRENTON – Each attempting to get its imprint on jobs legislation, Democrats and Republicans clashed over their respective versions of those bills, as Dems denied the release of Senate Minority Tom Kean’s (R-Westfield) Senate Bill 543 from committee by a 23-16 vote.

“I just had a discussion with various Republicans about various bill they would like to see moved with regard to jobs, so I’m kind of confused and perplexed,” said state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge), of the GOP’s floor effort to advance their jobs bill, and later others.

“The conversation on jobs is long overdue, Mr. President,” said Kean. “In regards to this bill, it’s a bill that’s not being supported by the committee.”

Kean ramped up the rhetoric, infuriated that Democrats would attempt to refer to themselves as the jobs creating party and eager to put on the record past Republican efforts to advance jobs bills, lest the GOP get cold-cocked on the issue in next year’s legislative elections.

Ridiculous, said Democrats.

“We passed last year the most dynamic jobs bill in America,” fumed state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth), who moments later in afighting mood jokingly yelled, “Where’s Doherty?,” referring to his GOP nemesis with whom he nearly came to blows earlier this year on the senate floor.

It turned into an “I’m Spartacus” sound-off by the GOP, as, moments later, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Middletown), state Sen. Jen Beck (R-Red Bank), state Sen. Diane Allen (R-Edgewater), and state Sen. Sean Kean (R-Wall) rose one by one and, like Tom Kean before them, attempted to get stalled bills of theirs on jobs released from committee.

Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) led a Democratic effort to successfully block those bills from reaching the floor.

“‘Nuff said,” Buono declared, identifying over GOP objections the “still under construction” designation on the jobs section of Gov. Chris Christie’s website.

But the GOP had given their operatives and mailmakers sufficient ammo to draw up 2011 glossies griping about Democrats’ efforts at kiling jobs bills, even as Dems – rejuvenated by Senate President Steve Sweeney’s (D-West Deptford) recent jobs package release, geared up to ram a message about Christie and the GOP advancing little more than stymied and symbolic jobs creation efforts from the floor.   

2011 preview: tempers flare as lawmakers war over jobs bills