Print Page   |   Sign In   |   Register
Search
News & Press: Recent News

Sweeney: Atlantic City may be days away from bankruptcy

Thursday, May 5, 2016   (0 Comments)
Share |

NJ.com 05/05/16

As the state Assembly readies a vote on an Atlantic City rescue plan that challenges his own proposal, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney on Wednesday warned the famed seaside resort could be days away from bankruptcy if his opponents don't put politics aside. "Leadership means making very tough decisions," Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said at a Statehouse news conference. "Not political ones." "We're out of time," he added. Lawmakers have been staunchly divided for months over how to help Atlantic City, which has seen its tax base decimated by the closure of four casinos. Sweeney and Gov. Chris Christie have been pushing legislation that would allow the state to take over large portions of the local government for five years.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) has scheduled a Thursday vote on his own plan to give the city two years to fix its problems before a takeover happens. "I don't think he has the votes to pass it," Sweeney said. "Once it doesn't pass, then he should pass my bill. Otherwise, Atlantic City is going bankrupt. In fact, we're close to it now." And even if Prieto's measure passes, Sweeney said he would not put it up for a vote in the Senate because Christie wouldn't sign it. "What's the point of doing political theatrics?" the Senate president asked. Prieto said in a statement Wednesday that he is "not the one repeatedly talking about politics." "This is all about policy, and the compromise bipartisan Assembly bill remains the right choice," the speaker said. "I look forward to Thursday's voting session."

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), a Prieto ally, told NJ Advance Media that the vote will be "razor-thin." But Caputo said he believes the speaker has enough support and he hopes the bill's passage would lead Sweeney to compromise. Sweeney said he's offered two compromises — one in public and one in private — that Prieto has swatted down. The one he disclosed publicly would give Atlantic City 130 days to fix its issues before a takeover occurs. On Wednesday, Sweeney revealed that the private offer he made April 20 was to add another 45 days. Prieto's office said Sweeney never made a second offer, and that even if he did, the speaker "wouldn't have considered it a serious proposal anyway."

Sweeney said Atlantic City may be eight to 10 days away from running out of cash. And he stressed that Moody's Investor Service warned that at least 10 other New Jersey municipalities — including Paterson, Newark, and Trenton — will see their credit ratings fall the if Atlantic City defaults on its debt or goes bankrupt. Guardian has argued that Christie's administration promised the city the money.  The mayor said in a statement Wednesday that the city would still be in "tremendous debt" because of "legacy costs" and casino tax appeals even if he fired every city employee. "As any expert will tell you, we simply cannot cut our way out of this problem," Guardian said. "We want a solution as much as anyone else, but we need a comprehensive solution to a problem that has been 30 years in the making."


Sign In
Sign In securely
Latest News