Following an announcement from Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Assembly Majority Lou Greenwald (D-6) that the senate will amend its Atlantic City takeover bill to offer the city a 130-day grace period before the state broadens its powers there, Assembly Speaker Vince Prieto (D-32) said that his own competing takeover bill will stay the same. Prieto declined to post an Assembly version of the Sweeney bill last week, when his own advanced in committee.
Prieto wrote in a statement that the proposed Senate amendment, which would offer the city short-term state aid and that 130-day window in exchange for its government cuttin per capita spending from $6,700 to $3,500, does not change his opposition to the bill. Prieto objects to the Sweeney bill’s provisions allowing the state to alter or break union contracts in the city, and would offer the city two years of additional benchmarks before that happens under his own plan.
“I’ve always made clear that I would take a look at any proposal, and I’m pleased to see a step toward compromise, but Atlantic City must be treated fairly,” Prieto said. “Comparing Atlantic City to other municipalities is often not valid considering the millions of people who visit the city annually. Tying an unrealistic noose around the city’s neck would be unfair.
“Also, this proposal seemingly doesn’t resolve the concerns about eviscerating collective bargaining, fair labor practices and the civil liberties of the people of Atlantic City. Those core concerns must be addressed for any proposal to be taken seriously.”
Governor Chris Christie supports Sweeney’s takeover plan, and has said that he will not pass any bill that differs from the version passed in the Senate. Christie has called Prieto’s resistance to the takeover an an attempt to damage Sweeney politically in his bid for governor against the Speaker’s fellow Hudson Democrat, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop.