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Alternative Atlantic City rescue blasted by Christie will move forward

Tuesday, April 12, 2016   (0 Comments)
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NJ.com 04/12/16

State Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto announced Tuesday he is making changes to his recently unveiled rescue plan for the financially imperiled Atlantic City and will put it before the Assembly's judiciary committee Thursday morning. If the measure clears that panel, Prieto said, he will put it up for a vote in the full Assembly as soon as possible — even though Gov. Chris Christie has vowed to veto it. "I made clear that this bill was a work in progress," Prieto (D-Hudson) said, "and I remain open to compromising, but we will now be ready to move forward." "It is the right compromise for everyone, especially the people of Atlantic City," he added. 

The speaker's bill defies a plan pushed by Christie and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) to provide aid to the city as long as a five-year state takeover of the local government is approved. Though the Senate has passed the takeover, Prieto has objected to how the legislation would allow the state to break union contracts. He introduced his own rescue plan last week. Prieto's bill would allow the city to receive aid if it reaches benchmarks for two years. And if the city fails, then aspects of the takeover would be enacted. One criticism of the new measure was that it originally didn't provide aid for Atlantic City schools, as the takeover plan would. But Prieto said Tuesday he is amending the bill to change that.

The Assembly, the lower house of the New Jersey Legislature, is split between the takeover and Prieto's legislation. Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden) — the chamber's sponsor of the takeover bill — met with Prieto last week to discuss a compromise. But the fact the speaker is moving forward with his bill suggests a deal is not imminent. Greenwald did not immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday. Christie reiterated Monday that he will support only the takeover, as it's currently written. The Republican governor said he's heard "nothing in the last 72 hours that would make me feel different" about his stance.

 


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