As New Jersey’s state government careens toward a possible shutdown at midnight, Senate President Steve Sweeney has once again aligned himself with Chris Christie against the interests of New Jersey residents. He is maneuvering to force a rushed vote on Christie’s Horizon scheme, which threatens to raise health insurance premiums for millions of New Jersey residents and destabilize New Jersey’s health insurance market. Though he admits the bill is flawed and says he would support repealing it if the next governor asked him to, he refuses to stand up to the current governor.
The New Jersey Education Association, which previously criticized the Christie-Sweeney Horizon scheme, today called on legislators to rise above the Christie-Sweeney politics and do the work of the people who elected them. NJEA’s officers released this statement:
“Steve Sweeney has been in Trenton so long he’s forgotten that politics is about real people, not just about scoring points,” said NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer. “He’s holding the whole state of New Jersey hostage in his efforts to pass a bill that he admits is flawed and says he’d support repealing early next year. That’s the kind of cynical political game-playing that makes people so disgusted with politicians like Steve Sweeney. Legislators need to decide if they want to use their power to help the constituents or just be pawns in Sweeney and Christie’s latest political game.”
“Steve Sweeney’s leadership in the senate is more than questionable,” declared NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan. “He’s willing to shut down the state and disrupt the lives of millions of New Jersey residents for what reason? Community and business groups from around the state testified against this bill. This seems to be revenge politics and New Jersey’s wellbeing is not the priority. This is a shameless act of politics at its worst.”
“Steve Sweeney must be a lot weaker than most people think if he’s letting his legislative agenda be controlled by a lame-duck governor with a 15 percent approval rating,” noted NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Sean M. Spiller. “Maybe after eight years of carrying water for the Christie agenda, he’s forgotten how to stand up for New Jersey residents. Or maybe he knows exactly what he’s doing, and just doesn’t care that families across New Jersey are going to suffer because he won’t stand up to Chris Christie. Either way, he’s shown whose side he is on.”
NJEA is joined in its opposition to the Horizon bill by other unions, business groups and both major party gubernatorial candidates.