The New Jersey Assembly on Monday approved restoring $139 million in transitional aid to fiscally troubled cities, including Camden, after legislative leaders used an emergency measure to put the bill up for a vote.
The vote was 67-11 with one abstention. There was no discussion on the measure.
The move comes more than five months after Gov. Christie, a Republican, cut all but $10 million in transitional aid from legislative Democrats' proposed state budget over concerns that they had removed oversight funding from the program.
The bill that passed Monday adds $1.5 million for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs to provide oversight of the 11 cities receiving the aid.
The emergency legislative maneuver allowed the proposal to win approval from the full Assembly without first clearing a committee. It must pass the Senate and receive Christie's approval before it becomes law.
Christie said last week during a visit to Camden that he would consider approving the bill only if it included money for oversight so that taxpayer money would be "spent wisely and not wasted."
The Assembly passed a bundle of other bills Monday, including a proposal allowing pharmacies to sell needles and syringes without a prescription to try to curb the spread of HIV, AIDS, and other blood-borne diseases.
The Assembly also voted to establish a $3 million program that would allow laid-off workers to receive jobless benefits while receiving on-the-job training with participating companies for up to 24 hours a week for six weeks. Christie vetoed a similar bill sponsored by Democrats earlier in the year, and on Monday Republican legislators voted against it.
Other bills that passed would create a loan program to help small businesses expand and establish a statewide farmers' market to improve urban residents' access to fresh food.
With the restoration of transitional aid, Camden is set to receive the largest award, $61.4 million. Though $6 million less than Camden requested, the amount is nearly triple the $22 million designated for the state capital, which received the second-largest award.
Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd said the city would close the gap between the request and the award with $4.7 million in savings from the governor's pension overhaul. She did not expect to lay off any more city employees.
Camden's total state aid is $107.4 million, or 68 percent of the budget.
Despite the state's insistence that Camden needs to wean itself off state aid, the city's small tax base makes that almost impossible. More than half the properties in the city - including most of the waterfront attractions, such as the Adventure Aquarium - are tax-exempt.
Of business owners and residents who received a tax bill, 87 percent paid, down from 89 percent the previous year and one of the lowest collection rates in the state. And the tax-collection rate could be worse this year, after a significant tax increase from the city and the county.