New Jersey Lawmakers Back Atlantic City Loan If Spending Cut

  • City would get 130 days for plan to stabilize finances
  • Legislators have pushed competing approaches to shore up city

New Jersey Democrats in the legislature said they would give Atlantic City 130 days to draft a plan for cutting spending, the latest proposal as state and city officials fail to unite behind a financial rescue for the distressed gambling hub.

Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Paul Sarlo and Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald said in exchange they will ask Republican Governor Chris Christie to grant the city a bridge loan to keep it running as officials implement the cuts. If the city doesn’t reduce its expenses almost in half to $3,500 per resident, the state would assume control over its operations.

“No solutions have ever been implemented in a material way,” Sweeney said in a statement. “Our proposal gives the city one last chance.”

Atlantic City, which saw a third of its betting parlors close in 2014, may run out of money in June as the loss of casino customers to other states batters its tax revenue. Christie and state lawmakers have been bickering over how to help the seaside resort, with little consensus on how to proceed.

Mayor Don Guardian said Wednesday that he favors a competing approach from State Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto that would establish establish benchmarks for the city to meet before state and municipal officials overseeing its operations could take steps such as selling assets and changing contracts.

“I am completely open to compromise and working together to find a solution, but it must be within a reasonable and practical framework,” Guardian said in a statement.

Jeremy Rosen, a spokesman for Christie, said the administration doesn’t comment on pending legislation.

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