The Democrat-led state Legislature handed 30 bills aimed at spurring job growth to Gov. Chris Christie, but the Republican governor took his veto pen to the entire package, according to Senate President Stephen Sweeney.
Sweeney made that claim during a Jan. 8 interview on The Dom Giordano Show on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT. After Sweeney criticized the governor, Giordano asked him what he would do differently from an economic perspective.
"We gave him a jobs package, Dom, that he vetoed, and because it was our package," said Sweeney (D-Gloucester). "You know, the funny thing is, you’ve got to do something. You just can’t do nothing."
Sweeney quickly added, "We gave him 30 bills that, by the way, were bipartisan."
But the senator’s claim is misleading for two main reasons:
While Christie conditionally vetoed certain bills, the governor later signed them after the Legislature concurred with his recommendations. Secondly, Sweeney’s claim ignores the fact that the governor signed several other bills meant to assist businesses and create jobs.
First, let’s discuss the conditional vetoes.
To back up the senator’s claim, Sean Kennedy, associate executive director of the Senate Democrats, provided a list of 30 bills that Christie vetoed in different ways between 2010 and 2012.
For the most part, those bills received absolute vetoes or conditional vetoes. An absolute veto means the governor rejected the legislation outright, while a conditional veto means Christie agreed to sign the bill if the Legislature made certain changes.
But of the nine conditional vetoes cited by Kennedy, eight of them involve bills that Christie later signed after the Legislature approved his proposed changes. So, it’s disingenuous for Sweeney not to acknowledge how versions of those bills were ultimately signed into law.
Now, we’ll talk about other jobs-related bills signed by Christie.
The majority of the bills cited by Kennedy were originally part of what Sweeney and other Democrats called the "Back to Work NJ" legislative package. The Legislature approved that package of roughly 30 bills in early 2011.
Christie issued absolute vetoes on at least 15 bills, all of which were considered to be part of that package, including ones cited by Kennedy. Democrats later tried to override some of those vetoes, but failed to secure enough votes.
But here’s what Sweeney failed to mention: several other bills labeled by Democratic legislators as part of that package were ultimately signed by Christie.
The governor signed at least 16 bills described in Democratic news releases as being part of the "Back to Work NJ" package. Those bills include 12 bills signed by Christie without any changes and four bills cited by Kennedy as first being conditionally vetoed.
Christie conditionally vetoed at least one other bill within that package, but the Legislature did not accept his recommendations.
In addition to the "Back to Work NJ" bills, the remaining bills cited by Kennedy include legislation vetoed in 2010 and early 2012. We told Kennedy that, taken as a whole, those 30 bills don’t constitute a "package," since they were sent to Christie at different times.
In response to our findings, Kennedy said the following in an e-mail, and then declined further comment:
"All of the jobs bills acted on by the Senate were part of our jobs package, regardless of the timeframe in which they were done. The fact remains the governor vetoed 30 bills sent to his desk that would have created jobs and improved the economic climate in this state. In addition, in the Senate, it is the Senate President who defines what constitutes our jobs package."
In a radio interview, Sweeney claimed that Christie "vetoed" a "jobs package" of "30 bills."
It’s correct to say the governor vetoed numerous bills aimed at supporting businesses and job growth, and thus stopped them from becoming law.
But of the bills cited by the senator’s representative, eight were ultimately signed into law after the Legislature concurred with the governor’s recommendations. Also, Sweeney’s claim ignores several other bills labeled by Democrats as part of the "Back to Work NJ" package and signed by the governor without any changes.
We rate the statement Half True.
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