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Christie calls Prieto's Atlantic City bill 'a disgrace'

Friday, April 8, 2016   (0 Comments)
Share | 04/07/2016

Gov. Chris Christie mocked a compromise plan by state Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to rescue Atlantic City from bankruptcy as a "desperate effort" to wait out the governor's final 20 months in office and then resume business as usual. Christie assailed Prieto's proposal as a "union protection bill." The city staved off insolvency this week by voting to lengthen its payroll schedule for municipal employees from 14 to 28 days, something Christie derided as "financial trickery." Even with Wednesday's measures, the city will run out of money in the middle of May, barring a state bailout. On Wednesday, Moody's Investors Service warned that ten other "distressed New Jersey cities" could face possible future credit downgrades because Christie has refused to rescue Atlantic City if the city defaults on its debt. The governor leaped to defend the GOP front runner on Tuesday, saying the city government's myriad financial woes weren't Trump's doing. "The speaker wants to play these games," Christie said of Prieto (D-Hudson). "He's playing the games with Newark, Irvington, Union City, Trenton, and Camden, and their creditworthiness. It's a disgrace."

The governor on Thursday again insisted that he will only sign bipartisan bailout legislation that has already passed the Democratic-controlled state Senate that would give the state broad authority over the city's finances, including the ability to abrogate municipal contracts with labor unions. Atlantic City is saddled with nearly a quarter billion dollars in municipal bond debt, and owes $150 million in property tax refunds to the Borgata hotel and casino. "It's been agreed to by 15 Democratic senators, and 14 Republican senators," said Christie, "that represent 20 of the 21 counties in the state. That's a pretty good, bipartisan achievement for a Republican governor in a Democratic state." Prieto in a statement called his legislation a "very fair compromise" that allows Atlantic City "to continue providing vital services while finding ways to responsibly cut spending and save money." If lawmakers fail to act, the governor said he has no authority to save the city from financial collapse.

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