For Republicans, There’s Life After Christie, Says Sweeney
As New Jersey's deadline approaches to have a balanced budget in place, a showdown is brewing between Democrats and Republicans.
Democratic leaders in the New Jersey Legislature said they will pass a budget that fully funds the public employees' pension system. To accomplish that goal, they will need to raise revenue. That revenue is likely to come in the form of a tax on millionaires, however, Christie has vetoed the tax increase four times in the past. And he's on record as saying he'll do it again.
If Christie stays true to his word, that would set the stage for a veto override attempt, however, every previous override try has failed.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) said he blames Republicans for the failed override attempts.
"For my Republican colleagues, there's going to be life after Chris Christie in this state. We haven't been able to reverse him (Christie) yet, but maybe they (Republicans) should think about their futures because I don't think anybody's going to forget," Sweeney said.
Republican votes are needed for an override because Democrats do not have a super majority in either the Senate or the Assembly. The GOP has never provided enough votes to override a Christie veto even when they voted to pass the bill in the first place.
"Every one of these individuals that votes for something and then reverses them self, which is common practice here in the Legislature for the Republican side of the aisle, those votes live with them forever," Sweeney said.
Does Sweeney's warning hold any weight? One political expert didn't think so.
"Sweeney's threat is true, but it's also an old threat," said Peter Woolley, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. "The Republican/Democrat dialogue remains the same. The Republicans can always claim that they're being the responsible ones. The Democrats will say, 'No, we're the responsible ones.' It'll all wash one out of the other."
The electoral tides change very little in the Assembly and in the Senate, according to Woolley. There can be a shift in public opinion between the two parties and it still won't register in seat-by-seat contests he said. There is also a counterargument the GOP can make.
"Republicans can say that the Democrats have controlled both houses of the Legislature for more than a decade so, they own the problem and they've never fixed it," Woolley said.
On May 7, Sweeney introduced a bill that calls for raising taxes on residents earning more than a $1 million.
Sweeney proposes increasing the tax rate on income over $1 million from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent through 2018. The tax hike would generate $675 million in fiscal 2016.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.