TRENTON – Put up by Speaker Vincent Prieto, the 2018 State Budget failed 26-25-24.
After the vote, Prieto sat on his chair and did not close the machines. Technically, the vote was not over. Having ascertained where he stands – far short of the required 41 for a majority – the speaker did not move for several minutes.
Several minutes turned into minutes stretched.
It became clear later that Prieto left open the board in order to punch up the vote again, possibly after securing a deal.
The names of those who voted remained emblazoned on the board, the lights taking on a glowing, Christmas-like ornamentation over the gradually grumbling, laughing and restless chamber.
Prieto finally swiveled in his chair where his brain trust crowded around the base of his desk and on the carpeted steps.
“Can you imagine Joe Roberts doing that, sitting there like that,” a source harrumphed in InsiderNJ’s ear, alluding to the former speaker from South Jersey. “The very idea.”
Battling for a state senate seat, Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-2) of Atlantic County was the lone Republican voting in favor of the budget.
Yesterday, he abstained.
Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo and Assemblyman Dan Benson of Hamilton Twp. changed their nay votes from yesterday to nay votes.
Assemblyman Jim Kennedy of Union County, who voted aye yesterday, today abstained.
At one point, with lawmakers leaving their seats and roaming freely in the chamber, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-6), hands in his pockets, sauntered up to Prieto behind the rostrum.
The two political enemies engaged in a few minutes of conversation, before Greenwald walked away, leaving Prieto on his perch and in the chamber in a continuing state of friendly agitation, with the board still frozen and still no order to close the machines.