- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney have increased pressure on Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to put legislation bailing out Atlantic City up for a vote.

Christie said Wednesday on his regular radio call-in show that Prieto, a Democrat, should give a Senate-passed bill a chance if he can’t pass his own measure. Christie and Sweeney back legislation giving the state authority of the struggling resort town’s finances that already passed the Senate.

“You can’t say you have an alternative when you haven’t passed it out of your own house,” Christie said.

Earlier Wednesday, Sweeney and Prieto separately talked to reporters after meeting privately over how to help Atlantic City.

Sweeney says no progress was made and challenged Prieto to put his legislation up for a vote. Prieto says talks continue and reaching a compromise, not simply getting a vote on his bill, is the goal.

Under the Senate bill, the administration could take over the city’s finances to renegotiate labor contracts and debts, which Christie says he doesn’t have the authority to do now. Prieto objects because he doesn’t want unions to lose their bargaining rights.

Under Prieto’s bill, the city would have at least two years to meet financial benchmarks set by a panel of Christie administration, city officials and a special master appointed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Prieto’s bill has passed through committee, but he hasn’t put his measure for a vote in the Assembly.

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.

“We didn’t make any progress unfortunately,” Sweeney said after the meeting.

Atlantic City has been struggling financially since four of its 12 casinos closed in 2014 and the city’s tax base shrank in recent years.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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