Flanked by dozens of mayors and county officials, Gov. Chris Christie on Monday demanded that the New Jersey Assembly take action on a bill to cap the salary increases that arbitrators can award to public employees at 2 percent. The governor specifically singled out Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto and accused him of blocking the bill.

Gov. Christie attends interest arbitration event at Trenton War Memorial Monday (Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media NJ)

“We can’t allow petty politics to get in the way of getting the job done,” said Christie. “If we really want to protect the taxpayers of this state we have to do this and sometimes that means saying ‘no’ to people who have politically supportive of you.”

A bill passed the legislature in March to permit 3 percent raises if local governments could prove they saved money through layoffs or by forcing workers pay more for pension or health benefits. Christie conditionally vetoed the measure and the Democrat-controlled state Senate passed the bill again.

The legislation has been stalled in the Assembly ever since.

“It's disappointing that the governor and local officials have chosen to hold rallies rather than sit down and negotiate with the Assembly to resolve this matter,” said Prieto (D-Secaucus) in an emailed press release Monday. “I’ve asked the representatives of local officials to join me for discussions, but they have so far refused to offer any solutions.”

Supporters of the bill say without the 2 percent cap on salary increases, towns cannot stay under the 2 percent cap on property tax hikes without cutting vital services.

Prieto said he is willing to work on a compromise that is fair to public employees and taxpayers.