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N.J. senators and the Unions that Elected them call to end deadlock on casino referendum


DECEMBER 23, 2015, 3:15 PM    LAST UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2015, 5:44 PM

ATLANTIC CITY — Pressure is building on state lawmakers to agree on a ballot question to put before voters asking whether to approve two new casinos in northern New Jersey.

Sens. Raymond Lesniak, a Democrat, and Joseph Kyrillos, a Republican, called on lawmakers Wednesday to agree on a single plan for the November referendum.

Competing versions of the proposal in the Senate and Assembly differ mainly on which companies would be allowed to own the new casinos.

“Casino expansion will create jobs and generate economic growth for the entire state,” said Lesniak, a potential candidate for governor in 2017. “This is an opportunity we have to capitalize on. Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature should work together on a plan that can go to the voters for approval on the next ballot in November of 2016.”

Kyrillos said the referendum is too important to be scuttled by partisan politics.

“The entire Assembly, including Republicans and Monmouth County’s two new Assembly Democrats, need to wake up and join the Senate’s initiative to help save this effort,” he said.

Republican Sen. Jennifer Beck said Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop — a likely gubernatorial candidate — “have repeatedly constructed roadblocks” to a Senate measure backed by Senate President Steve Sweeney, another likely candidate for governor. Fulop says he strongly supports casinos in northern New Jersey.

The proposal calls for casinos at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford and in Jersey City. The vote to allow the new casinos would amend the state Constitution, which restricts casino gambling to Atlantic City.

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