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Assembly Speaker: Democrats can't ignore Christie in ending N.J. road funding crisis

Friday, August 12, 2016   (0 Comments)
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NJ.com 08/12/16

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto on Wednesday said his joint strategy with Senate President Stephen Sweeney to override the governor and end a month-long transportation funding impasse "does not appear viable." But Prieto (D-Hudson) on Wednesday called for the three leaders to simply get in "the same room and hash this out once and for all." "No one is going to enjoy the solution to this crisis, but New Jersey cannot go without transportation funding. It's not an option. It's time for a TTF summit," he said in a statement. "Everyone is going to have to put ego and politics aside, quit casting blame and get to work on finding a solution that can become law. I've shown myself to be open to compromise. Let's get to work before the economic damage is too deep."

After several unsuccessful proposals, that is the only path forward, Prieto said. The impasse already snuffed out a highly anticipated voter referendum constitutionally guaranteeing state pension contributions for public workers. Sweeney responded Wednesday he's surprised Prieto "appears to be giving up again." Sweeney responded Wednesday he's surprised Prieto "appears to be giving up again." "This would be the second time he is waving the white flag. I'm working hard with others to get the votes in the Senate for the TTF plan that we developed and the speaker agreed to," he said. "I hope he isn't backtracking on his agreement and I certainly hope that he isn't reverting to the bill he agreed to with the governor ... "

Industry experts say idling job sites is costing municipalities tens of millions of dollars and kicking thousands of workers off the job. They warned about the quickly evaporating construction season and the permanent loss to workers' incomes.  "My frustration with this Transportation Trust Fund stalemate continues to grow, but that's nothing compared to the economic distress out-of-work laborers, business owners and others impacted financially by this unacceptable situation are experiencing," Prieto said. For his part, Sweeney has accused the governor of stalling until after the November election, saying Christie is "still auditioning for Donald Trump's cabinet and signing any kind of tax increase or being overridden on a tax increase won't be popular in his party." Sweeney is "dead wrong," a spokesman for Christie said, adding "the Senate dropped the ball and created this crisis."


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