Hanging around with Donald Trump seems to have given Chris Christie the idea that he's capable of cutting yuge deals. Except his idea of a deal is actually a complete sellout to the Democrats.
The state Assembly hastily approved a plan after midnight Tuesday to cut the Sales Tax by a penny in exchange for raising the gas tax by 23 cents a gallon to rescue the near-broke Transportation Trust Fund.
Most members of the Assembly began the day Monday expecting to vote on a bill that would raise the gas tax and soften the blow by abolishing the estate tax, granting a greater exemption for retirement income, increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers and creating a tax deduction for charitable giving.
But by late Monday, that bipartisan plan gave way to an alternative proposal that preserved only the gas tax and income Tax Cut for retirement income, and that for the first time included a cut to the sales tax from 7 percent to 6 percent by 2018.
Raise the gas tax now. Maybe cut the sales tax later. No estate tax cut. No Income Tax Cut. Nothing upfront except Tax and Spend. It's such a great deal they had to sneak it through in the dark of night.
The deal was hashed out between Gov. Chris Christie, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) and Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union), who shuffled in and out of the governor's office from afternoon into the late night.
At 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) asked Prieto to post the Transportation Trust Fund bills for vote by emergency resolution. Within 14 minutes, the Assembly passed the governor's funding plan.
Fourteen minutes! That's gotta be some kind of World Record for deliberative scrutiny. Obviously no one actually read the bill, or bothered to care what the public might have to say about it. Too late peasants! It's a done deal, so bend over and take it like a man.
The whole thing is a sham. By 2018 Christie will be a memory in Trenton. And dollars to donuts whatever Democrat succeeds him will find enough budget "emergencies" to ensure this Sales Tax Cut never sees the light of day.
But that didn't stop Governor Sellout from doing his Happy Dance.
In an impromptu press conference minutes before the vote, Christie took credit for the revised proposal. Prieto emerged from the governor's counsel's office across the hall minutes later and embraced the governor.
"Who said that we don't get along?" said the speaker, who had been Christie's bitter adversary over a plan to bail out Atlantic City last month.
"While you guys are in there working, I'm the entertainment out here," Christie added. Prieto and Christie exchanged a ceremonial handshake and the governor did what could only be described as a celebratory dance.
Screwing the public is bipartisan fun!
Prieto and his unionista buddies are salivating at getting their mitts on that projected $2 billion annual boost to the Transportation Slush Fund.
They say it'll be used to fix our crumbling roads and bridges. And at an average cost of $2 million per mile there'll be plenty of opportunity for sticky fingers to latch onto some loose cash. Especially when some projects top out at a whopping $27.3 million per mile. Go ahead, tell me that one wasn't padded by the usual assortment of shady characters.
Then again, a lot of it will probably be earmarked for utopian socialist boondoggles like light rail, bike lanes, and the urban planners' perennial favorite — Transit Villages, which they'll sell on the idea of, wait for it, cars being too expensive to operate.
And then like I said, any hope of a future sales tax cut will fade into oblivion when the Democrats decide to use that money to bail out the public employee pension fund.
For a guy who entered office on the promise of shaking up the Trenton
establishment, Chris Christie has now cemented his stature as the epitome
of Business As Usual. Thanks governor. Thanks a lot.
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