This is why we should never negotiate with liars and cheats – as bad as the proposed deal to fund our road work is, it apparently is not bad enough for Christie to support it.
Governor Christie has waffled for years on the issue of funding the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF). Depending on his political appetite and aspirations of the day, he has said never a gas tax hike, only one that represents tax fairness, and even that the TTF itself if obsolete.
The Democrats, recognizing a solvent TTF is critical to our economy, have talked on and off for over a year about the proper funding mechanism. To their detriment, they have fallen victim to the pathological fear elected officials have of talking about taxes.
Now, on the brink of broke, there is finally a proposal to fund the TTF. The Democrats claim the proposal represents tax fairness that Christie apparently demanded. The bill, initiated in the Senate, has bipartisan prime sponsors – Senators Oroho (R) and Sarlo (D).
The plan is risky because the Governor has veto power – including conditional veto. Christie could return the bill eviscerated, for example cutting out the gas tax increase while leaving the estate tax cut. The Legislature will have to accept the Governor’s terms or override his veto in both houses (never yet done in 6 years).
Given what we know about Christie it should come as no surprise that he is back tracking on his notion of tax fairness, claiming the bipartisan proposal is not fair enough. And to demonstrate his warped notion of fairness, he has proposed one of the most racist and inequitable funding formulas imaginable as we head into these final days of budget negotiations.
Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, Gary Schaer, has recognized the danger of their plan and of Christie and says the Democrats will not commit suicide.
His Democratic colleagues better be listening, because from here, it looks a lot like they are about to fall on their swords.