Gov. Chris Christie broke his promise to keep Democratic spending in the $34.7 billion budget, Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said Wednesday, but the governor’s spokesman said he agreed to all 73 specific requests and the speaker is wrong.
Prieto reignited the feud with Christie that helped lead to the three-day government shutdown that ended on Independence Day.
Citing 20 provisions that the governor deleted from the spending plan — he has a powerful line-item veto at his disposal — Prieto called Christie’s decision “cruel.”
He also referred to photos that made international headlines showing Christie lounging near the surf at the governor’s residence at Island Beach State Park, which was closed because of the shutdown. Prieto ribbed the governor over the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, too.
“Anyone who contends Gov. Christie is an honest man has spent too much time sitting in the sun with him or in traffic on the George Washington Bridge,” he said in a statement.
Christie spokesman Brian Murray pushed back, saying the 20 provisions were apart from the 73 included in the agreement.
“Speaker Prieto’s statement is false and all the honest parties to our agreement know it,” he said.
The spokesman for Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney, Richard McGrath, praised the budget and said it reflects Democrats’ principles and addresses “real-life needs.”
Among the provisions Christie deleted include language that permitted households eligible to get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps, to also get an energy assistance payment of $21 per year. The move could lead to the distribution of benefits that is impermissible under federal guidance, Christie wrote in the budget.
Murray said the additional spending was “sneakily tucked” into the budget, but Prieto’s office says the proposals were made public June 26.