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6-19-12 State Budget Issues in the News
Star Ledger - Sweeney asks Oliver to produce list of N.J. Assembly members who support spending plan

Star Ledger - Sen. Pres. Sweeney musters enough votes for budget plan after arm-twisting… “Senate President Stephen Sweeney was able to garner only 20 votes — less than a majority of the Senate — in support of his budget plan during a closed-door session of Democrats last week, sources said today…”

Star Ledger - Sweeney asks Oliver to produce list of N.J. Assembly members who support spending plan

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 11:06 AM Updated: Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 2:26 PM

By Jarrett Renshaw/Statehouse BureauThe Star-Ledger

 

TRENTON — Senate President Stephen Sweeney has asked Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver to produce the names of at least 41 Democratic Assembly members who support the budget deal they hammered out amid concerns that she lacks enough votes to get the spending plan through, sources say.

Sweeney was only able to garner 20 votes — less than a majority of the Senate — in support of his budget plan during a closed-door session of Democrats last week, but picked up the critical 21st vote from State Sen. Ron Rice (D-Essex) in the days that followed.

A spokesman for the Assembly Democrats, Tom Hester, said "The Assembly is confident it will have enough votes for this progressive budget that all Democrats can support. Otherwise, it will not be responding to comments from unnamed sources."

Oliver did not take a similar vote, and Sweeney wants written assurances that the votes are there before he heads into final negotiations with Gov. Chris Christie, according to sources who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.

A spokesman for the Assembly Democrats, Tom Hester, said "The Assembly is confident it will have enough votes for this progressive budget that all Democrats can support. Otherwise, it will not be responding to comments from unnamed sources."

Still reeling from a divisive fight over health and pension reforms and a nasty leadership fight, Assembly Democrats are much more fractured than their Senate counterparts.

Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D-Union) lost his leadership position this year after he led an attempted coup against Oliver and current Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden). Cryan and his group of roughly eight allies in the Assembly have enough votes to thwart bills that are not expected to get any Republican support on the floor — such as Democrat-backed budget bill.

There are 48 Democrats in the 80-seat Assembly.

"Yes, I have problems with this budget, because it's full of one-shot gimmicks, borrowing for transportation funding, not fully funding education, taking money from towns, false tax cut promises, and not penny one for a Rutgers plan everyone knows will cost tens of millions of dollars,” Cryan said today. “It’s a David Copperfield budget, full of illusions, but the trick is being played on New Jersey residents. I just want an honest budget for the people of the our state."

Oliver could not be reached for comment.

If the Cryan coalition opposes the Democratic budget plan, then the proposal would either need to changed or Democratic leaders would have to seek Republican support – and that would likely come at a price.

Democratic leaders plan to set aside $180 million for tax relief next year. But they won’t pull the trigger on the tax cut unless Christie hits his revenue targets.

The lawmakers said they would evaluate revenue on a monthly basis, though they did not identify a specific trigger for the tax cut.

Christie has said he would not negotiate a budget with Democrats unless it included a tax cut, but he has been uncharacteristically silent about the Democratic proposal

The Democratic budget plans are expected to be introduced today and are scheduled to go before the respective committees in the Senate and Assembly on Thursday.

Floor votes are expected Monday.

Star Ledger - Sen. Pres. Sweeney musters enough votes for budget plan after arm-twisting… “Senate President Stephen Sweeney was able to garner only 20 votes — less than a majority of the Senate — in support of his budget plan during a closed-door session of Democrats last week, sources said today…”

Sweeney (D-Gloucester) has since picked up the crucial 21st vote from State.

Published: Monday, June 18, 2012, 11:20 AM Updated: Monday, June 18, 2012, 3:01 PM by Jarret Renshaw

TRENTON — Senate President Stephen Sweeney was able to garner only 20 votes — less than a majority of the Senate — in support of his budget plan during a closed-door session of Democrats last week, sources said today.

Sweeney (D-Gloucester) has since picked up the crucial 21st vote from State. Sen Ron Rice of Essex County, virtually assuring that Democrats can move a budget bill through the Senate. The overall plan, which outlines the contours of the budget, includes delaying any decision on a tax cut until — or unless — Gov. Chris Christie hits his ambitious revenue targets.

However, Rice said today that his support comes with strings attached.

“I told him I would give him the 21st vote conditionally,” Rice said. “I told him he was to work with all Democrats, including members of the Black Caucus, because we have spending priorities.”

Democratic sources who attended the party meeting said the members who voiced opposition were angry that Sweeney planned on relying on most of Christie’s spending plan without adding their own legislative priorities.

The sources requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly on behalf of the party.

There was also concern that Sweeney 's budget plan relied on the governor’s revenue figures instead of of the less optimistic estimates offered by the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services. Several of the nation's major credit-rating agencies have also questioned Christie's projections.

Amomg the 24 Democrats in the Senate, those who did not support Sweeney’s plan included Richard Codey of Essex Couny, Shirley Turner of Mercer County, Barbara Buono of Middlesex County, and Rice.

 


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609-394-2828



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