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Christie calls on Assembly to reinstate 2 percent interest arbitration cap

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Gov. Christie speaking Monday outside of the War Memorial in Trenton.
Gov. Christie speaking Monday outside of the War Memorial in Trenton. - (ANDREW GEORGE)

Gov. Chris Christie called on Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus) Monday morning to post a bill seeking to readopt a now-expired law that would cap interest arbitration awards for police and firefighters at 2 percent per year.

“Speaker of the Assembly, if you post this bill, believe me it will pass,” Christie said.

Flanked by a bipartisan mix of municipal, county and state officials at a rally in Trenton, Christie said the cap had previously afforded municipalities the ability to keep property taxes down.

“This is not a partisan issue,” Christie claimed.

Perth Amboy mayor Wilda Diaz, who also serves as the president of the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association, added that without a reinstatement of the cap, municipalities may suffer staffing losses as a result.

“If we don’t act we will see a reduction or elimination of services residents depend on,” Diaz said.

Last month, the Legislature passed a bill that would extend the cap through 2017 but also allowed for exemptions and the ability to raise the cap to 3 percent for some towns meeting certain criteria.

When Christie conditionally vetoed the bill and returned a bill that largely mirrored the previous law, the Senate voted to concur with the governor’s veto but Prieto’s Assembly allowed the bill to sunset as of April 1.

On Monday, Prieto said in a statement that opponents of the Assembly’s bill seem unwilling to compromise on the matter.

“It’s disappointing that the governor and local officials have chosen to hold rallies rather than sit down and negotiate with the Assembly to resolve this matter,” Prieto said. “I’ve asked the representatives of local officials to join me for discussions but they have so far refused to offer any solutions. Still, they take time to join rallies. This is very unproductive and unfair to the taxpayers who deserve better.”

But as Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) noted at the event, now is “not the time to stop the momentum.”

“Read our bipartisan lips,” Bramnick said. “Lower our taxes.”

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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