Just when we thought there was a budget deal, a handful of defections in the Republican caucus threaten to derail it.
As far as Democrats are concerned, they had a deal with the Christie Administration. The Dem leadership would deliver four votes in the Senate and eight in the Assembly for the Republican sponsored budget bill. In other words all 17 Repubs in the Senate…all 33 in the Assembly would be voting for it. But in order for that to hold, all Republicans must be on the bill, and some are not doing what someone else promised they would.
In the Senate, I am told that Mike Doherty, Jennifer Beck and Diane Allen are holding out. Negotiations are ongoing ( Keep in mind…I could be wrong just ten minutes from now…but at some point on Wednesday that was definitely the case ). There are different reasons at play here, but there are a coupla issues that seem to be drawing the ire of the Repub caucus. They are called “revenue raisers,” and as far as the Republicans are concerned that is a fancy way of saying ” new taxes.” One bill would establish new business fees, another would allow the government to snatch unused gift certificates. Let’s say someone buys you a gift certificate to eat at your favorite restaurant. You forget to use it, and fail to notice the expiration date. The state would be entitled to compensation for that. Obviously, this has upset business owners particularly the Restaurant Association.
As has already been widely reported: In the Assembly Michael Patrick Carroll and Alison Littell McHose are also no votes. They feel too much school aid is going to the Abbotts and they believe there should be a more equitable distribution to include needy rurals and suburbans ( remember, education is getting an $820 cut in this budget so every dollar counts ).
Anyway, Dems are disinclined to give the Governor more votes, so this may be a real test of his leadership within the party. And if Christie can’t get the Repbs to fall in line and he does come seeking more Democratic votes they will no doubt “come with a large price tag.”