By Art Gallagher
The bromance between Governor Chris Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney appears to be on the rocks.
In recent weeks Christie has shifted his rhetoric from slamming the “do nothing” Democratic legislature to singing the praises of Sweeney for compromising with him over “landmark” pension and benefit reforms which Christie declared on national TV was a “model for America.”
The pension and benefit reforms were signed into law last Tuesday during a Christie-Sweeney love fest ceremony at the Wall Memorial in Trenton. That left only two days for the legislature and the Governor to settle on a State budget.
Rather than negotiate with Christie over elements of the budget he had proposed, the Democratic legislature passed their own budget that exceeded the amount of revenue that Christie had certified by $600 million and increased the “millionaires tax” by 20%.
Christie received the Democrats budget on Wednesday evening. His choices were to veteo it outright, conditionally veto it, either of which could have led to a government shut down, or to use his line item veto power to cut specific spending items that the legislature had passed.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, the Assembly Republican Budget Officer, said of the Democrats, “they played chicken with the wrong guy.”
Christie made $900 million in line item cuts that have the Democrats squealing like a Ned Beatty in Deliverance.
Sweeney reacted with a profanity laced interview with Tom Moran of The Star Ledger. Sweeney called Christie “a rotten prick” and said he wanted to “punch him in the head.” The Senate President likened the Governor to “Mr. Potter from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,” the mean old bastard who screws everybody.”
Former Senator Richard LaRossa and I will be talking about the budget and the political fallout of the budget this afternoon on our radio show, LaRossa and Gallagher: The Real Jersey Guys on WIFI 1460 AM on your radio dial and here on your computer or smart phone.
As of now we don’t have any guests scheduled for the program. We hope you will call in to the show, 609-447-0236, with your questions and comments about the budget, the Christie-Sweeney tiff or anything else New Jersey you want to talk about.