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Senate President Sweeney Says Both GWB Committees Will Coordinate In Investigation

1-16-14

With the New Jersey State Senate and the Legislative Assembly conducting their own investigations into the George Washington Bridge lane closures, Senate President Steve Sweeney told NJTV News Anchor Harry Martin that both branches of the legislature have been doing a good job up to this point and will share information going forward.

Members of both the Senate and the Assembly had been part of a joint committee investigating the lane closures but now both will have their own respective special committees doing their own investigations. Sweeney said that the Senate would have preferred to have a joint committee, but that the Senate will coordinate efforts with the Assembly.

“We would prefer to have the joint committee. We’ve asked the Assembly if we could do a joint committee. At this point they don’t want to do one and that’s fine,” said Sweeney. “We’re going to try to work not in conflict with each other but coordinate with each other. We’ll look at some things, they’ll look at things. We need to get to the bottom of this investigation and we need to get answers and we need to get them now. So again, the Assembly will do theirs and we’ll try to coordinate.”

Although both the Senate and the Assembly will have their own committees investing the GWB controversy, Sweeney said that he doesn’t see why there couldn’t be a joint committee. He also said that Sen. Loretta Weinberg was integral from the beginning and that she was the one who sounded the alarm, starting the investigation.

Gov. Chris Christie has gathered his own counsel to conduct an investigation into the lane closures.

“Well again that’s the governor,” said Sweeney. “We don’t have much say on what he does as far his office and he’s going to do again what he thinks is best.”

Sweeney said that members of Christie’s administration have said they are willing to cooperate with the investigation.

At the State of the State address, Christie said that he wanted to enact more pension reforms. Sweeney said that Christie did a bait and switch because employees have been paying more and that the state has skipped pension payments for years. A law was passed saying that the state would pay for pensions, and according to Sweeney, it was a strong commitment.

“It’s absolutely going back on your word,” said Sweeney. “When you made a promise to the employees if they contributed more, that over a seven-year period, we would get up to the full pension contribution and we had that obligation. We wrote it into law. I’m a union iron worker, I believe in pensions and I think the workers that have been made a promise on this pension, it has to be kept.”

Sweeney said that what Christie said during his State of the State address on pensions was wrong as about 800,000 people depend on pensions.