In the middle of an ongoing statewide scrap between Gov. Chris Christie and Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32), Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-28) on Monday called on Christie to work with the Assembly to forge a compromise that would protect Atlantic City and the rights of public workers.
His city at the brink of running out of money, Mayor Don Guardian said last week that he will have to shut down non-essential parts of AC government and withhold employee pay if the state is not forth-coming with aid.
Christie and Senate President Steve Sweneey (D-3) want a full-fledged state takeover – or intervention – in Sweeney’s words, which Guardian opposes. Likewise resistant to a state takeover, Prieto says Christie already has the instrumentation he needs to help the nearly bankrupt seaside resort city.
Caputo said Christie needs to strike a compromise with Prieto, who to this point he has merely publicly berated as a marionette of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, a 2017 gubernatorial foe of Sweeney’s.
“The Governor has adamantly refused to negotiate with the Assembly or accept any changes to the bills from their current form. This is an ineffective and dangerous way to govern, especially at such a critical moment,” said the chair of the Assembly Gaming Committee. “Not only is it an insult to the entire legislative body, but it’s also hypocritical in light of the amendment the Senate added that would enable casinos to opt out of the PILOT tax agreement if North Jersey casinos open. This opt-out provision would unravel the entire fabric of the PILOT bill and threaten to destabilize Atlantic City’s tax base all over again.
“Speaker Prieto has continuously expressed an interest in sitting down and working out a compromise that still protects Atlantic City’s future without trampling on the rights of the public workers who put their life on the line every day,” Caputo added. “The Governor should take him up on this offer and every member of the General Assembly should stand up and support the Speaker at this crucial time. There is far too much at stake right now to play politics with Atlantic City’s future.”
Caputo dismissed as inaccurate the governor’s charge last week that Prieto is merely doing the bidding of Fulop.
“Vinny Prieto is his own man,” the veteran assemblyman said. “He’s an honest man and he’s standing up for the legislature.”