Chris Christie: 10 Days to Avert Atlantic City Bankruptcy

After a scuttled vote on an assembly bill meant to fix Atlantic City's finances, Gov. Christie said he believes the city will run out of cash in 10 days.

Chris Christie

Chris Christie speaking at today’s press conference on the Atlantic City state takeover bill. (Still from NJTV livestream; used under a Creative Commons license)

“We’re either going to do it, or Atlantic City is going to be bankrupt.”

Those were the words from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a late-afternoon press conference today, speaking about series of Atlantic City state takeover bills that he wants the legislature to pass as soon as possible. According to Christie, Atlantic City will run out of cash in about 10 days.

“We don’t have time to dawdle here,” Christie said. “It’s 10 days.… I am not going to permit the taxpayers of New Jersey to be fleeced again.” Christie supports a bill, proposed by Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney, that allows the state to take over large swaths of city government for five years.

Earlier in the day, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto canceled a voting session on a competing bill that would give the city two years to fix its finances itself before the state steps in. Christie says he’s not going to send money to help the city restructure its finances without the state taking over city services itself. Atlantic City avoided default earlier this week by making its bond payments.

“I told you all weeks ago that the speaker would not have the votes for this bill,” Christie said at today’s press conference. “What I hope now is that the legislature will put their priorities where I have been putting my priorities from day one, which is saving Atlantic City…

Earlier in the week, Democratic Jersey City mayor Stephen Fulop attacked South Jersey power broker George Norcross for his support of Sweeney’s takeover bill, according to The Record:

“Why is a Republican governor actively being dictated to on state legislation by a non-elected insurance broker? Does this make sense to anyone? Why are they so adamant about not compromising with the Assembly?” Fulop said in a statement. “The answer is simply that certain aspects of the state’s politics in Trenton is rotten to the core and that is the truth.”

Norcross said Fulop has “repeatedly sought my advice and support,” and recently met him in person “and begged for my support for governor. I respectfully declined, but perhaps that rejection is behind today’s unhinged statement.”

Per the newspaper, Fulop is likely to face Sweeney in a Democratic gubernatorial primary next year. “I’ve been saying for six, eight weeks the speaker didn’t have the votes for his bill,” Sweeney said at a press conference today after Pietro scuttled the vote on his bill. “He never had the votes for his bill. And the speaker constantly said, ‘I’m about policy and not politics. I’m about policy and not politics.’ Well, it was the opposite — it was about politics, not policy.”

The drama is not over: Both Sweeney and Prieto say they won’t post each other’s bills in their respective legislative bodies. Prieto has a press conference scheduled for later today.

“There’s always inherent jealousy between the Senate and the Assembly,” Christie said. “We need a bill with the broad authority that the Sweeney bills have, and that’s what we need to get done.”

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