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Christie to Sign Transitional Aid Bill, Budget Chairman Says

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will sign Democratic lawmakers’ $140.5 million version of a bill to provide aid to distressed cities, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo said.

Sarlo, a Wood-Ridge Democrat, said he spoke with Christie yesterday and the governor, a first-term Republican, told him he will sign the measure. The governor declined to tell reporters yesterday in Teaneck whether he would approve it.

Democrats in June put $149 million in transitional aid in the state budget. Christie vetoed all but $10 million of the money, and then proposed restoring $139 million with a supplemental spending measure. Lawmakers’ inaction on that bill led Moody’s Investors Service to place six cities under review for possible credit-rating downgrades, and forced some local officials to delay payments to schools and vendors.

“It’s unfortunate that we had to go through this whole gyration,” Sarlo said today in a telephone interview. “We should have it available by the first of the year.”

Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie, declined to comment on Sarlo’s statement.

Christie’s $139 million version of the measure included spending $1.5 million for state oversight. Democrats, who control both houses of the Legislature, added the $1.5 million to their bill, which passed the Assembly earlier this week. Senate President Stephen Sweeney has said he plans to post the legislation for a vote in the full Senate on Dec. 15.

Eleven cities, including Trenton and Camden, have been waiting for their share of the aid. Six operate on a calendar year, giving them less than a month to make their cash last without a collective $16.2 million.

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