According to Senate President Steve Sweeney, his plan to have casinos make their way to North Jersey will make it through the senate with full approval on Monday as the legislative session comes to a close. Friday, Sweeney called on Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to allow a vote on the Senate version in the Assembly on Monday. He claims that the Assembly version does not have enough votes to pass.
Over the past several weeks, the two leaders of New Jersey’s legislative houses have been at odds over differences in the two casinos proposals. bills. Sweeney wants North Jersey casinos—if they were to eventually be approved by a public vote—to have ties to Atlantic City Casino operators, with Atlantic City operators getting the right of first refusal of a majority stake. Prieto wants only one casino to be required to have such ties and the other location to be open to the highest bidder regardless of Atlantic City affiliation.
“We have reached a critical juncture with time running out of the legislative session and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto needs to face the realities of the situation at hand,” said Senator Sweeney. “Because the Speaker doesn’t have the votes for his plan in the Assembly, I am asking him to commit to a vote on the Senate plan on Monday.”
Sweeney also claimed that the Senate version will be approved with “bipartisan support in the Senate.”
“The failure to follow through on the Senate bill would be the legislative equivalent of a ‘pocket veto’ that would result in a severe economic setback for New Jersey,” Sweeney said.
Those who support the opening of North Jersey casinos say that the percentage of revenue dedicated to Atlantic City will counter-balance any negative impacts that a more varied casino market may have on the city. Supporters also say that opening casinos outside of the city’s borders will generate much-needed funds for services for senior citizens and the disabled.
Sweeney said that, “political calculations have resulted in mysterious and unspoken opposition to the plan that offers so much for so many in North Jersey, South Jersey and the entire state.”
Prieto is allied with Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, one of Sweeney’s main opponents for the 2017 gubernatorial nomination. Fulop supports the Assembly version of the casino bill.
The Speaker issued a response to the Senate President’s call for an Assembly vote on the Senate bill.
“I’m not interested in boastful press conferences and pointless votes,” Prieto said. I’m interested in compromise. If the Senate president cannot understand that the Assembly bill is the best for the entire state, then he must at least deal with reality. The Senate president’s bill does not have support to pass the Assembly…”
Prieto’s statement continued: “I have compromised significantly to get this done while the Senate president engages in overheated rhetoric and blame. Check the bills and see who has compromised the most. The facts speak for themselves.”
“I challenge the Senate president to spend less time preening at press conferences and more time truly working together on what is so obviously needed at this point – a compromise that will pass both houses with enough votes during the next session.”