Bill vetoed by Christie getting another look

NEPTUNE – The controversial state debt reporting bill that recently threatened Gov. Chris Christie’s perfect record of thwarting veto override votes is getting another look from lawmakers.

Democrats said they were blindsided when the Christie administration last week made a last-ditch stand to influence the override hours before the vote, warning Assembly Republicans the plan could create problems with Securities and Exchange Commission rules.

It was an argument not made in the bill’s first six months of consideration, including the veto Christie issued three weeks earlier, and the new position wasn’t shared with Democrats.

No Republicans opposed the measure in its first vote. In the override, nearly three dozen Republicans changed their positions or didn’t vote.

GOP Assembly leader Jon Bramnick in a meeting with the Asbury Park Press editorial board Tuesday said the administration made a mistake in not sharing the information with ranking Democrats and bill sponsor Troy Singleton, D-Burlington.

Christie’s office did not respond to a request for comment but Singleton said he received an apology.

“Someone in the governor’s Counsel Office called and apologized for the lack of communication,’’ Singleton said. “I accept the apology but our further research shows that their objections are unfounded.’’

Bramnick, R-Union, said he’s collaborating with Christie staffers on a revised measure to have the state’s annual debt report include 10-year projections of the affordability of the state’s obligations.

“You’re going to get a debt reporting bill but it’s not going to be the same one we had,’’ Bramnick said.

Singleton said Democrats haven’t ruled out advancing a bill nearly identical to the original, but he said the decision is the hands of Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Hudson.

Christie’s critics say he is concerned that the release of expanded economic data will bring extra attention to state’s sluggish recovery, at a time when he’s weighing a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

The incident left Republican lawmakers muddied over the perception that they put loyalty to Christie over good government, and Bramnick said, “Generally speaking I can understand the concern of the media and anyone about the Republicans staying with the governor. But this was a very unusual set of circumstances in that the administration basically came down to the caucus and said, ‘We made a mistake.’ ”

Democrats have tried dozens of times without success to override Christie vetoes since he took office in 2010.

Bramnick said neither he nor the administration tell members of the caucus how to vote, even in cases when GOP lawmakers change their positions.

“Let’s assume the administration finds out more information and they bring it to our attention (before an override vote). I don’t think it’s a crime, if it’s believable and credible, to accept that information,’’ Bramnick said.

Original article