By David Cruz
In the seemingly never-ending war of words between the governor and the Democratic controlled legislature, this has been an especially bloody week. In an almost daily barrage of rough rhetoric, Gov. Chris Christie has laid into lawmakers with exasperation and a mocking tone.
“Let’s get real here, everybody,” he told the State Chamber of Commerce yesterday. “The people who really have responsibility in this state are you, for running businesses and creating jobs and me, for providing adult supervision in that circus down in Trenton.”
Then, later on, during his monthly call-in show, he continued the barrage, picking on a number of bills introduced by the legislature, including funding for programs promoting mentoring, paternal responsibility and one that would put aside $66 million to reimburse towns that lose tax ratables to non-profit cemeteries.
“Sixty-six million dollars for the dead, not a penny for the living for tax cuts,” he said. “I mean, this shows the hypocrisy and this is what I’ve been trying to get across to the press and to other folks. These people are hypocrites.”
But the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, says the bill actually aims to provide something the governor says he wants — tax relief. “Giving something back to these communities would be property tax relief to these communities,” said Prieto. “To say that I’m trying to throw away $66 million, that’s just not right; it’s not true. This is about starting a dialogue just as every other bill. This is what we do for a living, introduce bills to get a dialogue going.”
Sen. Loretta Weinberg, a frequent target of the governor’s jibes, was chuckling at his rants today, but says there’s actual serious work he could be helping with. “I’m going to another town hall; I’m coming from behind the curtain, the music is playing and I’m going to attack them,” she said, mocking Christie’s campaign-like town hall events. “Well, you know what, we need help right here at home. So come back and help us solve the problems.”
The governor says he won’t sign any bills until lawmakers approve his tax cut, but Democrats say none of these bills are even set for hearings, so the governor’s dramatics amount to little more than deflection from the collapse of his “Jersey Comeback.”
“Governor, get the message,” she said pointedly. “There’s a problem in New Jersey, a problem with a rising unemployment rate, a problem with your revenue projections to cover the cost of a tax cut. We’ve got a lot of problems here. Come home. Start addressing them and stop having temper tantrums.”
A cemetery could be an appropriate metaphor for the status of relations between the governor and the legislature. This is the political season and the hope is that after November’s election, both sides can get back to working together again. But as one elected official reminded us, after January, an entirely new campaign season begins.