Gov. Chris Christie said a deal to rescue Atlantic City that advanced in the Legislature this week contains the authority he would need to help the struggling resort town, but he stopped short of saying he would sign it.
Christie, a Republican, spoke during his regular radio call-in show on 101.5 FM. He said he will decide quickly on how to act on the bill.
“Everything that the senate president and I asked for is there,” Christie said, referring to Senate President Steve Sweeney, with whom Christie reached an earlier agreement to let the state take immediate control over the city’s finances.
A new deal that is set to get a vote by both chambers of the Democrat-led Legislature on Thursday gives the city five months to come up with a plan to balance budgets over five years.
The city would get a temporary loan of about $60 million, would be able to offer all its employees early retirement, and would retain its collective bargaining rights – something that would have vanished under previous proposals.
Casinos would not be allowed to opt out of a payment in lieu of taxes plan, even if voters authorize casinos in northern New Jersey.
The deal eliminates for now the threat of a state takeover, and resolved a nasty political fight that has raged since January and pushed the resort ever closer to bankruptcy.
Christie also said he expects the deal reached earlier this week to be further amended on Thursday, but he didn’t say how.
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