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Friday, July 28, 2006

Politically partisan

The Republicans may be in the minority in Trenton, with their proposals hardly ever seeing the light of day. But the Democrats in charge keep stoking their skepticism, giving GOP legislators plenty of opportunities for some zingers.

In the debate Thursday over whether to dedicate half of the sales tax increase - about $600 million - to property tax relief, the Republicans wanted details on how the money would be used and assurances it would be apportioned fairly. "It's really a big ruse. It's a shell game,'' Assemblyman Sean T. Kean, R-Monmouth, said. And why not, after seeing the Democrats distribute special funds and the budget's "Christmas tree items'' almost exclusively to Democratic-controlled districts in the past year.

But Democratic leaders said not to worry. "People in the Legislature are educated enough and intelligent enough to do the right thing,'' said Sen. Joseph Coniglio, D-Bergen. That inspired Assemblywoman Amy H. Handlin, R-Monmouth, to quip: "That's like saying, 'We're from the Legislature, you can trust us.''' Given their dismal record on property tax and ethics reform, why should anyone trust any legislators?

All this back and forth prompted Democrats to criticize the Republicans for politicizing the sales tax dedication issue. After their heavyhanded control of Trenton the past 2 1/2 years, the Democrats are the last ones who should cry "politics.''

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