Jim Whelan?s political gamesmanship shut down the government, closed casino doors, and cost workers more than $9 million in lost wages
With the federal government on the brink of a shutdown, South Jersey voters are having flashback nightmares to the single most devastating shutdown in our region?s history. The now infamous 2006 government shutdown, which occurred on Jim Whelan?s watch was declared ?an embarrassment for our entire state,? closed casino doors, and began the cycle of declining revenues and job losses our residents are still experiencing the effects of today. (The Press of Atlantic City, September 26, 2007)
As Atlantic County residents won?t soon forget, Whelan and his Democrat colleagues in the legislature became locked in a political intra-party squabble over not whether, but rather how much to increase the state?s sales tax. While Governor Corzine had proposed a 1% sales tax hike, Whelan and then Speaker Roberts (D-Camden) supported a $253 million sales tax hike and a $370 million disability tax hike (The Press of Atlantic City, July 3, 2006; The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 29, 2006)
With Whelan refusing to budge on how much to hike taxes, the government shutdown for seven days which closed casino doors, costing the industry $55 million and employees more than $9 million in lost wages (The Press of Atlantic City, July 11-12, 2006). Whelan?s political posturing was so bad and wrong for his constituents that Local 54 called for Whelan?s resignation and The Press of Atlantic City called Whelan a ?LOSER? in the battle because he failed to ?replace Gormley as the voice of the casino industry.? (The Press of Atlantic City, July 9 & 12, 2006)
Simply put, Jim Whelan failed Atlantic County. Instead of working to prevent a government shutdown, Jim Whelan closed casino doors at the height of the summer tourism season. Instead of brokering a deal with his own Democrat colleagues, Jim Whelan chose Camden county politics over 50,000 families in the district. And instead of fighting for the thousands of hard working men and women who lost $9 million of wages, Jim Whelan stood idly by and just let the devastating shutdown occur.
Furthermore, after Jim Whelan?s utter leadership failure at a critical moment, he conceded a year later that his holdout wasn?t worth it and that his political ploy ?was a nightmare. It was an embarrassment for our entire state.? (The Press of Atlantic City, September 26, 2007).
?Not too long ago, Jim Whelan chose Camden county politics over the 50,000 hard working men and women in his district as he stood idly by and did nothing to prevent the 2006 government shutdown that closed the doors of our region?s largest employers,? Republican Frank X. Balles said. ?For Jim Whelan to claim that he is a voice for the casino industry is pure deceit and deception. Unlike Jim Whelan whose reckless political maneuvers cost workers $9 million in lost wages and the industry $55 million, I promise to always put the interests of my constituents and hard working families of Atlantic County first.?