New Democratic Leadership Teams Ready To Battle Gov. Christie [VIDEO]
The new Democratic leadership teams in the State Senate and General Assembly held court at the State House yesterday and displayed a unified and defiant front.
They say the days of allowing Republican Governor Chris Christie bully them have come to an end.
The Assembly's incoming Democratic Majority Caucus chose Sheila Oliver to continue as Assembly Speaker and selected Assembly budget chief Lou Greenwald as the new Assembly Majority Leader replacing Assemblyman Joe Cryan who lost a power struggle. Vincent Prieto will become the new Assembly Budget Committee chairman, Jerry Green will continue as Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore and Gordon Johnson will serve as Majority Conference leader.
The Senate Democrats announced their leadership team for the 2012-13 legislative session. Steve Sweeney will serve as Senate President. This will be his second term in that position. Senator Loretta Weinberg will serve as Majority Leader replacing the ousted Barbara Buono. This will be Weinberg's first term in that position. Senator Paul Sarlo will serve as Deputy Majority Leader and chair of the Budget and Appropriations Committee. Senator Nia Gill will serve as President Pro Temp. Both will be serving their second terms in those positions.
The Democratic leaders say job creation and fixing the economy will be the top priorities. They say they don't agree with most of Christie's education reform ideas and they won't let him dictate their agenda.
Green says, "We're not going to be intimidated. We're not going to be threatened as a party." He then made a request to the media, "When he throws a punch call us up so we can throw a punch because the days of embarrassing Democrats are all over."
Video by Dino Flammia
The Speaker says Democrats will also bring back the millionaire's tax increase bill. Oliver says, "We will not let that issue rest. We have an obligation to raise that issue up as the people that sent us down here to speak for them have asked us to do."
Sweeney agrees saying, "Now we have to focus on what has not been done by this administration which is the creation of jobs and fixing this economy………."Two years of treating millionaire's with kid gloves has not improved the economy in New Jersey."
Christie was asked what would happen if the millionaire's tax hike bill is passed. He said, "It'll be vetoed and the veto won't be overridden…..The McGreevey/Codey/Corzine years are over. Someone needs to send a message down the hall. There's nobody in this room who's going to sign a millionaire's tax or any income tax increase."
Christie says he's tired of hearing Democrats talk about the millionaire's tax. He says, "I'm surprised they don't think that the millionaire's tax can cure cancer because that's the way they talk about it."
"I believe we're going to find common ground to get things done," Christie added. "Pronouncements that happen two days after an election, after what was obviously a fractious and difficult leadership fight inside both caucuses, I don't think those should be taken as gospel, in-stone truth."