With less than four weeks until the constitutional deadline for approval of a new state budget, Assemblymen John Amodeo and Vince Polistina today said they are outraged that the Legislature continues to drag its feet on legislation allowing casinos to remain open in the event of a state government shutdown, and they urged the Assembly Appropriations Committee to hear the bill today.

?The government shutdown in 2006, which resulted from the inability of the Governor and the Legislature to approve a budget by the July 1st deadline, was a devastating blow to the casino industry and its workers,? said Amodeo, R-Atlantic. ?The clock is now ticking toward that deadline and we need immediate consideration of these proposals to protect casino workers in the event of another shutdown.?

The failure of the Governor and Legislature to pass a budget by July 1 in 2006 resulted in a shutdown of the state government and the closing of the casinos in Atlantic City for the first time in history.

?Recent history suggests that until a budget is actually introduced and signed into law, we cannot take it for granted that a deal will get done before the deadline,? said Polistina, R-Atlantic. ?The last shutdown of the casinos cost the state, and the casino industry and its employees, millions of dollars. We must pass legislation to ensure that this never happens again, and we are running out of time.?

Amodeo and Polistina are the sponsors of Assembly Bill ACR-135, a constitutional amendment that would deem casino regulators essential state employees, allowing the casinos to operate in the event of a government shutdown. They are co-sponsors of ACR-155, a similar amendment that has cleared the Assembly Tourism & Gaming Committee, and is awaiting approval by the full Assembly.

Polistina and Amodeo also are cosponsors of Assembly Bill A-2410, which would allow casinos to operate in the event of a government shutdown this year ? since the constitutional amendments cannot take effect until after they go to the voters in November. That bill also has cleared the Assembly Tourism & Gaming Committee, and is awaiting consideration by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Polistina urged the leadership of Local 54, the union representing Atlantic City casino workers, to speak up for their members and let their voices be heard on the need for this legislation.

?The people most negatively impacted by the last government shutdown are the ones who should be most vocal in pushing for this bill,? Polistina said. ?If we stand up with one voice, we can put pressure on the other members of the Legislature to pass this bill now.?

?Unfortunately, it seems that Governor Corzine and Senator Whelan have been giving us lip service,? Amodeo said. ?If they support this legislation, they should be with us in pushing for the Assembly Appropriations Committee to hear this bill immediately.?


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