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Christie continues streak of no overturned vetoes

Thursday marked the last full voting session of the year for New Jersey lawmakers – and the latest time they’ve failed to override a veto of Gov. Christie’s.

Thursday marked the last full voting session of the year for New Jersey lawmakers – and the latest time they've failed to override a veto of Gov. Christie's.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature has unsuccessfully tried to override Christie on 19 bills since the Republican governor took office in 2010, according to the Office of Legislative Services, including three bills this year.

Attempts for two of those bills took place Thursday. One of the bills would have required the state to pay into the public pension system quarterly, rather than annually. Christie previously rejected the bill as "an improper and unwarranted intrusion" upon the executive branch's power to decide the timing of payments.

Earlier this year, Christie drew a lawsuit from public sector unions after he reduced state payments into the pension funds to account for a revenue shortfall, saying he had few options as the end of the fiscal year approached.

The other bill would have created procedures for the privatization of government services – a measure Christie attacked as using "the guise of transparency" to restrict privatization.

While Democrats have majorities in both the Assembly and Senate, it would take a two-thirds majority in both houses to override Christie. Republicans, including on some bills they originally supported, have not provided enough votes for the overrides.

Overrides have been rare in recent years: The last time a successful one took place was under Gov. Christie Whitman in 1997, according to OLS. Whitman, a Republican, had vetoed a bill to ban "partial-birth abortions," calling the measure unconstitutional and proposing a different form of ban. The Republican-controlled Legislature overrode the veto, though the law was later struck down by a federal court.

Though Democrats haven't succeeded in overriding Christie, that hasn't stopped them from fulfilling certain goals. After Christie vetoed a bill in 2013 to raise the minimum wage, Democrats voted to put a similar measure on the state ballot. Voters approved it last year.

On Thursday, they also took steps to circumvent Christie's administration – this time, by invoking a 1992 amendment to the constitution to invalidate civil service rules that change the way executive branch employees are promoted. Opponents say the rules, which were adopted by appointees of the governor at the Civil Service Commission, will lead to promotions based on patronage, rather than meritocracy.

The resolution lawmakers passed Thursday – deeming the rules inconsistent with legislative intent – didn't need Christie's approval, but it's unclear what will happen next. The commission maintains it acted within its authority in adopting the rules, giving no indication it plans to reverse course.