Legislative committees have advanced a measure providing raises to hundreds of public employees in New Jersey and also allowing Gov. Chris Chrisitie profit from a book deal while he is still in office.
Sen. Kevin O’Toole defended the book deal provision
“New York does it. Other states have done it. I know the governor of Wisconsin has done it and others,” said O’Toole, R-Essex. “I think anybody in the executive department should have that same right as our U.S. senators, as our presidents, as anybody else as an American who wants to write a book be compensated.”
Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, voted against it, questioning the wisdom of acting on the legislation just six weeks after the gas tax was raised.
“I think it’s a slap in the face to our residents,” she said. “The timing maybe never is good, but is especially bad now.”
State law now prohibits any New Jersey governor from receiving compensation other than his or her $175,000 salary. Christie has one year to go in his final term.
Monmouth University political analyst Patrick Murray told lawmakers that while raises for judges, prosecutors, and legislators’ staff are overdue, linking it to a book deal for the governor is questionable.
“It is going to continue to seriously undermine public trust not just in Gov. Christie himself, but in the governorship of New Jersey, also the legislature of New Jersey as well, and leave people to further question whether you are actually acting on their behalf?” he said.
Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo said putting the book compensation provision in the bill is a pragmatic move.
“There’s a lot of good in this bill, and if we need to include that to make sure it gets the bipartisan support and the governor’s signature, so be it,” said Sarlo, D-Bergen.
The full legislature will vote on the measure Monday in its final session of the year.