APROPOSED bill in the New Jersey Legislature would give the state vast power over Atlantic City, including the right to make most major decisions and to sell off assets and land.
Senate President Steve Sweeney said his bill would let the state take over Atlantic City's finances and said the city should declare bankruptcy if the Legislature doesn't quickly approve it.
Sweeney, a Democrat, said the struggling resort needs to get its fiscal house in order and stop seeking bailouts from the state.
"This is a very clear statement to Atlantic City," Sweeney said. "Get your act together."
His comments came shortly after the Legislature approved a revised Atlantic City aid bill that would have its eight casinos pay more in lieu of taxes. The Legislature was also about to move forward with a bill to authorize expanding casinos to North Jersey.
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian called it "Atlantic City's Pearl Harbor," adding the state had attacked his city by surprise.
"It sounds like an occupying force coming down," said Guardian, a Republican.
Sweeney acknowledged the already high level of state control over Atlantic City.
"What this does is puts it on steroids," he said.
According to a draft of the bill, which had not been formally introduced as last night, the state Local Finance Board would be given control of "any of the functions, powers, privileges, immunities, and duties of the governing body."