New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a plan that helps Atlantic City avoid bankruptcy. But the rancor between the governor and city officials hasn’t dissipated at all.
The bailout plan basics
Last week, Christie approved a plan passed by the legislature that allows Atlantic City to continue paying its bills. That followed months of stalemate between Christie and a Senate-backed immediate takeover of AC vs. the city and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto’s two-year plan.
The compromise was a plan that gives Atlantic City five months to balance the city’s budget five years out. The city will get tens of millions of dollars from the state in loans as a stopgap measure. The state can also still take over the city if it does not come up with a satisfactory spending plan.
The city’s problems had even become a punchline in the presidential campaign.
Fallout after the bailout
Christie, despite signing the bill, still doesn’t seem like a big fan of the aid package or of AC’s leadership.
After months of wrangling in the legislature, Christie was not in a conciliatory mood in the immediate aftermath of his action. Speaking this week, his words were classified as “taunting” and “mocking” by media outlets.
“Where’s his plan?” Christie asked during an unrelated news conference. “He says he’s been prepared to do it. Where is it? It’s Day 145. Where is it? Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. Where’s the plan, mayor?”
Senate President Stephen Sweeney was still with Christie, as well, saying a viable spending plan coming from AC’s leadership isn’t likely.
What’s next for AC?
For now, a waiting game is in store. AC’s government is likely to take every last day available to give the state its spending plan, so as to avoid a potential state takeover.
Given what we have seen and heard so far, when those five months are over, the state will attempt to take over AC. But that effort could end up in the courts, as the city can appeal such a decision by New Jersey and Christie.
The mess in Atlantic City is far from solved, and a real solution to its financial problems may simply have been delayed.