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They’re supposed to be the feistier group, that chamber of human political activity closer to the people, whose less than lordly status makes them more susceptible to popular currents of mood and thought.
But after the senate passed the $38,748,6100 budget and the tax incentives extension, the assembly went ahead and did the same, with little fanfare.
The only difference here was Republicans putting up a united front in opposition to the budget.
In the senate, several Republican senators voted in favor.
Well, it’s an election year for the assembly.
The budget passed on party lines, 53-24. (Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera (D-4) was absent).
“The vote was veto proof,” said a statehouse source.
“Unless you believe there’s a world in which Gabby breaks from the South Jersey Democrats,” the source added, a reference to Mosquera’s stout presence in the South Jersey Democratic Organization.
Not everyone was amused.
“The livestock otherwise known as the New Jersey Legislature,” sneered an observer, referring to Democrats who bucked Governor Phil Murphy, who wanted a millionaire’s tax and didn’t get one.
It was a stealth vote, of sorts.
“The idiots voted on it, then brought the bill back when it passed, for discussion,” said a source.
“Only Jersey,” he added. “It’s so laughable.”
As it happened, or after it happened, Assembly members clapped themselves on their backs, for a job well done.
“I’m proud of the budget we voted on today. It’s a Democratic budget, which Democrats can be proud of,” said Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-29).
The GOP was mildly reproachful.
“This is an election year budget that does not address the structural problems in this state,” Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) said. “At some point, we are on a crash course with bankruptcy.
“We continue to do the easy stuff,” he added.
“I don’t expect to sway the outcome of this budget vote with this speech,” Assemblyman John DiMaio
(R-23) deadpanned, before expressing similar concerns.
“I must say events of the last week or so have changed things for the better, because we’re raising less taxes, although we’re still raising some,” he added.
But he was clearly gearing his remarks to the general election at hand.
“Today, legislative Democrats captured the state budget and held it hostage. They are offering New Jersey a Hobson’s Choice: tax everything that walks, talks, sleeps, shoots, rains and parks, OR use fake math, New Jersey’s recession fund and pounds and pounds of pork barrel spending to appease politicians and political patrons. Let’s be clear, the budget that passed today is as shameful a product as anything Governor Murphy has ever offered. It does nothing to address the pension crisis, offer budget savings or provide meaningful tax relief.
“Ideological diversity is the state’s last, best hope,” Steinhardt added. “Instead of racing to spend $38.8 billion in taxes and fees, our State representatives should be racing to find ways to put money back into taxpayers’ pockets. Trenton Democrats are in a war over power, not ideas, and New Jersey’s 9 million residents are paying the price. It’s time for honest answers. It’s time for change.”