The Atlantic City financial crisis has loomed over New Jersey for weeks, without a real solution imminent solution from the state government. And while the past week offered hope that a compromise could be reached between opposing factions in the state, there is also real reason to believe the stalemate will continue.
The latest on the AC crisis
The battle over how to deal with the city, which is on the brink of bankruptcy, continues to pit two sides:
- Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney, which both back an immediate takeover of Atlantic City.
- Atlantic City officials and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, who are trying to advance a two-year plan that gives AC a way to avoid a state takeover.
While Christie, who signed the New Jersey online gambling bill into law in 2013, has mostly been taking a hard-line approach in backing the Senate plan, his stance seemingly softened, at least incrementally. From NBC Philadelphia:
Christie said Thursday at a separate news conference that his “door is always open” but that he wants the original bill.
“I want to fix Atlantic City,” he said. “I don’t negotiate in public. If the Legislature can’t come to a consensus, my door is always open. I told them I want the Sweeney bill as originally passed. Nothing happens until it gets my signature.”
Not so fast on AC compromise
However, a more recent report on AC negotiations dampened hopes for the two sides. From the Press of Atlantic City:
Sweeney and Christie appeared to be considering a compromise when the Senate president last week suggested giving the city 130 days to get its finances in order. But after Wednesday’s meeting, Sweeney and Christie said the talks were not moving ahead.
Additionally, Christie again stepped up his rhetoric, chiding Prieto. “You can’t say you have an alternative when you haven’t passed it out of your own house,” Christie said, according to the Press of AC.
So far, Prieto’s bill has only made it through a committee vote, and the Assembly hasn’t taken up the Senate version.
Where does that leave AC?
Atlantic City has little in the way of cash on hand, and paying its bills is becoming increasingly difficult with each passing week and month.
At some point, there comes a tipping point at which AC can’t operate without state assistance, unless it wants to go into bankruptcy, which isn’t a viable option.
Atlantic City, with Prieto’s help, is trying to avoid the immediate state takeover at all costs. But short of Christie and Sweeney giving in on their stance, financial aid for AC that is not tied to a takeover appears to be a longshot.
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