At last night?s Freeholder meeting, Atlantic County Freeholder At-Large Frank Giordano introduced a resolution calling on Gov. Corzine and the state legislature to take immediate action to prevent any future shutdown of the Atlantic City Casinos. The resolution passed 8-1 with all Republican Freeholders voting in favor.
?The Governor should immediately re-designate those working at the Casino Control Commission as essential state employees and, if not, the State Legislature should pass legislation to allow the casinos to continue operating for at least sixty (60) days in the event of a future government shutdown,? said Freeholder Frank Giordano. ?These safeguards are critical to ensuring that the economic engine of New Jersey keeps running until legislators can reach consensus on the state?s budget.?
Freeholder Chairman Jim Curcio endorsed Freeholder Giordano?s comments, ?The billions in tax revenue generated by the Atlantic City casinos are used to fund critical infrastructure improvements and senior services not only right here in Atlantic County, but throughout New Jersey.?
Yesterday?s resolution came on the heels of statewide polling data which revealed that more than 70% of New Jersey residents support protecting the Atlantic City casinos by keeping gaming exclusively in Atlantic City.
Republicans argue that the infamous government shutdown during the height of the 2006 summer tourism season highlights the need for legislation to prevent a similar shutdown from occurring in 2009.
?The government shutdown in 2006 was a devastating blow to the casino industry and its workers,? said Assemblyman John Amodeo (R-Atlantic). ?With numerous Atlantic City casinos already teetering on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of the recession, we can not risk another casino shutdown occurring later this year.?
?As a former casino employee/executive and Atlantic City business owner, I am all too familiar with how many working families earn a living in the shadow of the Atlantic City casinos,? said District two Freeholder Candidate Frank D. Formica. ?The tens of thousands of Atlantic County residents whose jobs depend on the casino industry can not afford to be forced out of work while legislators in Trenton are bickering over how much to raise their taxes.?
Assemblymen Amodeo and Polistina have already introduced legislation to extend the amount of time the casinos can operate in the event of a shutdown from seven (7) to sixty (60) days. However Democrat leaders in Trenton have refused to move the legislation out of committee and bring it for a vote before the General Assembly.
?The prudent thing is to be prepared well in advance for what could happen this summer,? said Assemblyman Vince Polistina (R-Atlantic). ?The legislation approved last year fails to account for the very real possibility that during a protracted budget stalemate we could have a government shutdown that exceeds one week. We have to prevent workers from losing wages and the state from losing revenue should state leaders fail to adhere to their responsibilities as they did in 2006.?
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