Statehouse Standoff: Dems’ Caucus Dug in Against Christie’s Horizon Deal; as GOP Mobilizes Against Dems’ School Funding

Prieto

Ill will in the Democratic caucus room today greeted the Horizon raid proposal put forward by Governor Chris Christie, with several strident voices rising against the governor’s designs, a source in the room told InsiderNJ.

Against the backdrop of a budget versus school funding formula fight, Christie seeks a deal that would enable Democrats to infuse $125 million into state education funding in exchange for allowing the governor to pour $300 million from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey’s reserves for drug treatment.

Democrats don’t like the proposed deal, the source told InsiderNJ.

But they’re running out of time.

By law, the state must enact a 2018 spending plan by July 1. Christie proposed a $35 billion budget, and Democrats want to tack on $300 million, including $125 million in increased funding for education aid and preschools.

Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) called today’s meeting without much warning, and so only half the caucus attended. They can live with the state lottery fund proposal to beef up the pension fund, the source said; but the main takeaway was not a lot of support in the room for the Horizon raid.

“We had a great discussion today on various proposals as we move toward adopting a state budget for next fiscal year. The caucus has clear ideas about what they would support, and I look forward to further talks with the Senate president and the governor.”

If Dems hate the Horizon budget, republicans continue to express dismay behind Governor Chris Christie’s public opposition to the Democrats’ school funding plan. Senate Republicans are rallying tomorrow against what they decry as the Democrats’ backroom school funding deal. Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-11); Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-13); Sen. Jim Holzapfel, Asm. Dave Wolfe & Asm. Greg McGuckin (all R-10); Sen. Steven Oroho (R-24) are all expected to attend.

 

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