As news reports in recent days have focused on concerns about whether another government shutdown may result from this year?s budget process, Assemblymen John Amodeo and Vince Polistina today called for their colleagues in the Legislature to support their legislation allowing casinos to remain open in the event of a shutdown.

?We cannot afford to have a repeat of the disaster that resulted from the government shutdown in 2006,? said Amodeo, R-Atlantic. ?The clock is now ticking toward the July 1st deadline and there is no time to delay consideration of these proposals to protect casino workers in the event of another shutdown.?

Yesterday, the 15-members of the Legislature held a press conference to announce their opposition to key elements in Governor Corzine?s budget proposal. News reports pointed out that if the members of the caucus vote as a bloc, they could hold up passage of any budget proposal.

Just last month Corzine said that the state?s dire fiscal condition could make it ?very challenging? to pass a budget by the July 1 constitutional deadline.

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.

?There is no excuse for another government shutdown, but we need to pass this legislation because we have seen in the past that when it comes to the budget deadline, there are no guarantees,? 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 now to ensure that this never happens again.?

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.


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