Mr. Speaker –
There is a financial crisis in New Jersey. A financial crisis which is resulting in an unprecedented situation in the history of our great state. We are sitting at a crossroads. Never before has a New Jersey city been on the verge of outright bankruptcy or financial collapse. Never before has the full faith and credit of our state been called into question. Never before have so many thousands of people and families been at risk of financial ruin. The repercussions of this crisis threaten the financial stability and well-being of every government entity in the state of New Jersey.
A failure to act in response to this dire circumstance is not an option. The majority of the New Jersey General Assembly cannot stand idly by and passively watch the collapse of one of our greatest cities and the financial impairment of an entire county and region of our state. Mr. Speaker, a failure to allow other duly elected members of the New Jersey General Assembly to consider financial recovery legislation passed in an overwhelming bipartisan fashion by 75% of the New Jersey Senate has brought us to the edge of disaster.
Bankruptcy or financial collapse for Atlantic City means plunging Atlantic County and the entire regional economy of southern New Jersey into recession or depression. This is a region of our state that has already lost over $2.5 billion in revenue and over 10,000 jobs.
We implore you to consider the ramifications of a failure to act. While we may not all agree on the best course to avert this potential disaster, absent any concrete action the damage will be irreversible. Public safety, fire and other first responders will not be paid. This will result in both crime and emergency response times spiking. Public school teachers will go unpaid, affecting thousands of children. The negative momentum this will create will cause tourists and other business activity to dry up in the city. Family owned businesses which have been serving the community for decades will be forced to cease operations. Hard working men and women will watch helplessly as their home values plummet when the Atlantic City housing market collapses. For most families, their home is their most valuable asset. These families will never recover from this crushing financial blow.
The crisis of Atlantic City unfortunately does not stop at the city’s borders. Atlantic City’s financial ruin will have a significant impact on other New Jersey governmental entities. These entities and all taxpayers will suffer as the costs of borrowing skyrocket because lenders will now be on notice that the state may not stand behind other financially distressed governmental entities. These are the ramifications that will be felt throughout the state if the majority of the New Jersey General Assembly continues to passively watch this financial destruction unfold. The course of inaction you have chosen for us will not allow for a faithful discharge of our duties as members of the New Jersey General Assembly.
We are faced with a dire financial problem that is bigger than any single elected official or any local constituency. State government must be given the tools to implement the change of direction that is required to avoid disaster. That is why this legislation is required. These unprecedented circumstances force us to take equally unprecedented action.
The solution to this problem that we are proposing represents the interests of all New Jersey citizens. A failure to act on these bills will result in a catastrophic knock down blow to the people of Atlantic City, Atlantic County and the region. It will result in New Jersey being a national spectacle.
Mr. Speaker, we are asking you, we are pleading with you to post these financial recovery bills for a vote. We do not ask you or any member to support this legislation. We do not ask you or any member to eliminate their vocal opposition to these bills. Our request is simple: let us serve the people of New Jersey by considering this legislation. Show our citizens that the majority of the New Jersey General Assembly will act when faced with a problem that if left unaddressed will financially cripple thousands of innocent families and businesses.
Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald
Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak
Assemblyman Bruce Land
Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo
Assemblyman John Burzichelli
Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro
Assemblyman Paul Moriarty
Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera
Assemblywoman Patricia Egan Jones
Assemblyman Arthur Barclay
Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt
Assemblyman Herb Conaway
Assemblyman Troy Singleton