Gov. Chris Christie is holding out for a high-ranking position in Donald Trump’s administration and it’s slowing down New Jersey politics, said Senate President Stephen Sweeney.
Sweeney claimed that Christie is waiting to address the Transportation Trust Fund crisis — resulting in a month-long construction shutdown — in order to boost his chances of joining the Trump administration should the Republican nominee take the White House.
“I actually think the governor’s going to wait until after the presidential election to do something, because he’s still auditioning for Donald Trump’s cabinet, and signing any kind of tax increase or being overridden on a tax increase won’t be popular in his party,” Sweeney said on Monday.
The five-year Transportation Trust Fund program expired at the end of June, leaving the state without a source of revenue for highway and transit projects. The state has not passed a new plan due to disagreement between the governor and the legislature over specific tax cuts.
Both sides support a 23-cent increase in the gasoline tax, but Christie wants to offset that with a one percentage point reduction in the sales tax and increases to the retirement income tax exclusion.
Sweeney shot down the $1.9 billion dollar plan, arguing that it would “destroy the budget of the state of New Jersey.”
The Senate and Assembly Democratic leadership has formulated an alternative plan, which likely will not draw enough support from New Jersey Republicans to override a gubernatorial veto. This leaves the Transportation Trust Fund in stalemate.
Christie denied allegations of politically motivated stalling, and blamed Sweeney for the delay, telling reporters on Tuesday, “If Senator Sweeney would’ve passed the bill that the assembly passed, I would’ve signed it and we wouldn’t be doing this anymore. That’s why Senator Sweeney’s statement makes no sense.”
“The fact is, I already said I would support a bill, came out publicly with the speaker, [and] supported a bill that included a substantial gas tax increase…. so again, this has nothing to do with national politics,” he added.
Trump Jr. suggested in February that Christie might be a viable attorney general candidate. Christie has already experienced harsh criticism for endorsing the Republican nominee early on, with many calling him a “hypocrite” for flip-flopping on his support. Ryan Lizza, a journalist for The New Yorker, wrote that Christie has “transformed himself into a sort of manservant” for Trump, even suggesting that Christie once fetched Trump’s McDonalds order.
Even the Simpsons mocked Christie’s close relationship with Trump. A now-popular Simpsons clip has a cartoon Trump demanding the following of his assistant, “put my name on the Lincoln memorial, make Chris Christie eat a worm just for laughs, disband NATO, and make me some scrambled eggs in a gold plate.”
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