The stressful relationship between Gov. Chris Christie and his Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno described in Bridgegate testimony has gone public. This dust-up is over next Tuesday’s 23-cent hike in the gas tax. The governor wants the revenue in a lock box to be spent only on roads, bridges and mass transit. The lieutenant governor took to the airwaves to lobby against so-called ballot question number two because it contains a clause that allows the state to borrow a bundle.
Guadagno: I literally went back and said, “OK, so now what does this ballot question mean?” And the ballot question means that we can borrow upwards of $12 billion. … Nowhere in that constitutional question does it say $12 billion. So what we need to do is ask every single legislator who voted, I believe, rightfully for the lock box, because it’s a great idea, to go back and review it in light of the gas tax legislation that I’m completely opposed to.
Governor Christie’s unaccustomed to having internal disagreements aired in public. He came out swinging by way of a strongly worded statement from his press office, saying, “The governor supports ballot question two because it will ensure that all gas tax revenues can only be spent on roads, bridges and mass transit. This protects taxpayers from future wasteful spending by Democrat legislators. The governor finds it hard to believe that the lieutenant governor supports giving an unguarded pot of money to the Democrat-controlled Legislature, rather than on needed infrastructure projects. It must be a misunderstanding.”
NJTV News Correspondent Brenda Flanagan tried to get the lieutenant governor to clarify:
Guadagno: If we’re going to pay that kind of money, that I understand is necessary to fix our roads and our bridges, let’s make sure that’s where it’s actually going.
Flanagan: The governor indicates there’s a misunderstanding.
Guadagno: I haven’t spoken to the governor today.
Flanagan: There was a press release that was put out by his office…
Guadagno: OK. I haven’t spoken to the governor today.
Flanagan: Saying that you maybe misspoke.
Guadagno: My event is starting right now. … They’re here waiting.
Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron spoke with Anchor Mary Alice Williams about what’s happening.
Williams: Can you clear up some of the confusion about ballot issue number two?
Aron: Mary Alice, it is confusing. Kim Guadagno thinks that ballot question number two authorizes $12 billion in new borrowing. The governor, the Assembly speaker and late this afternoon the Senate president added his voice, saying that’s not the case. That the $12 billion borrowing authorization is embedded in the law that the governor signed three weeks ago, that ballot question number two simply has to do with creating a lock box. There’s language in both the ballot question statement and in the law itself that would seem to support both positions. For Kim Guadagno’s case, it says contingent upon voter approval of a ballot question, the law, the TTF law says that. But the power of the governor, the Assembly speaker and the Senate president are probably going to enforce the other interpretation on us. Guadagno released a statement 30 seconds ago maintaining her positions, saying we’ve got to attack the gas tax itself. The only way to do that is by voting no on question two.
Williams: Is this a clear sign that she’s distancing herself from Gov. Christie?
Aron: It looks that way. She did it first when she opposed the gas tax a few weeks ago. She did it again on Donald Trump after the Access Hollywood tape and she said she couldn’t support Trump. This is now a third occasion in the space of a month where she’s going in a different direction.
Williams: Is she running?
Aron: Party people say she’s running. They say she’s been going door to door with local candidates, particularly in South Jersey. That she’s taken going on 101.5 with Bill Spadea every other week in the mornings. That she has a think tank called Building a Better New Jersey Together and that she’s trying as best she can to contrast herself with a governor whose poll ratings are not very good.
Williams: Very interesting. Thank you Michael.
Aron: Thanks, Mary Alice.