(TRENTON) – Assembly Budget Chair Gary S. Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic) issued the following statement Monday after hearing testimony from DCA Commissioner Charles Richman about the problems that led to the financial crisis in Atlantic City:
“Today’s discussion with Commissioner Richman confirmed what I have believed all along: Atlantic City’s financial problems were long ignored by the state and allowed to corrode to what we have today.
“It is the height of hypocrisy for the governor to argue that Atlantic City’s best bet is for the state to take over its finances, when the city’s financial failures were exasperated under the supervision of the state.
“The local finance board which is an extension of the state approved an Atlantic City budget that was at best unfeasible and without basis.
“The governor rewarded fiscal irresponsibility by giving Atlantic City transitional aid without compelling tough decisions.
“It is anyone’s guess why the state monitor would approve a request for transitional aid with no strings attached, if there was a belief that Atlantic City was not heading in the right direction.
“Why did an administration which prides itself in fiscal responsibility allow this to go on before deciding there was a problem?
“Had the state attacked these problems two years ago, Atlantic City would be in a much different place today.
“The administration’s stance that we should forget the past and instead focus on the now is convenient since it was the state’s inaction that allowed the financial situation in Atlantic City to worsen.
“I’m more convinced today that a state takeover of Atlantic City would not help the city.
“I’m also very curious as to why the administration chose to ignore the troubles in Atlantic City, before deciding that there was indeed a problem that could only be salvaged by the state.”