Christie Takes Aim at Assembly Speaker [AUDIO]
Gov. Chris Christie had some harsh words for Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-Secaucus) early this week. On Monday, the governor again hammered Prieto for failing to take action on a bill to cap the salary increases that arbitrators can award to public employees at two percent.
“Year-over-year inflation in the past year has been 1.1 percent in New Jersey, so no one is giving anything up here,” Christie said. “If this were such a bad idea, why four years ago did the Assembly vote 74-1 to approve it, including the Speaker?”
Since the interest arbitration cap expired on April 1, Christie has been in attack mode, trying to spur Prieto to post the bill for a vote. Monday’s event at the War Memorial in Trenton was attended by dozens of mayors and county officials, who lined the steps of the memorial as Christie dramatically descended the steps to address the press.
“There’s really one person left to make this judgment,” Christie said. “Speaker of the Assembly, if you post this bill, believe me it will pass.”
The governor said the 2 percent cap on property tax increases can’t work without the 2 percent cap on interest arbitration awards. He said without the salary cap, towns would have to make drastic cuts to crucial services just to stay under the property tax limit.
“It’s disappointing that the governor and local officials have chosen to hold rallies rather than sit down and negotiate with the Assembly to resolve this matter,” said Prieto in an emailed press release. “I’ve asked the representatives of local officials to join me for discussions, but they have so far refused to offer any solutions.”
A bill passed the legislature in March to permit 3 percent raises if local governments could prove they saved money through layoffs or by forcing workers pay more for pension or health benefits. Christie conditionally vetoed the measure and the Democrat-controlled state Senate passed the bill again, this time with the 3 percent increase carved out, among other things. The legislation has been stalled in the Assembly ever since.