New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave his “state of the state” address today, Jan. 8, 2013, a speech that was heavily dominated by the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and one in which Christie talked about the usual problems that face NJ, taxes, reform, education and budgets.
Christie started out by thanking emergency and relief workers from all the different departments and agencies and for those out of state who came to help the Garden State. He made specific mention of a few of those people whose bravery went the extra mile and had them in the gallery to be recognized.
On taxes Christie said “we have also held the line on taxes. We have held the line on spending. We have made New Jersey a more attractive place in which to grow a business, to grow jobs, to raise a family. In fiscal year 2010, we faced a $2 billion budget deficit with only 5 ½ months left in the fiscal year when we took office. We cut over 200 programs and balanced the budget with no new taxes.”
“In fiscal year 2011, the picture was even worse: a projected $11 billion deficit on a budget of $29 billion in percentage terms, the worst in the nation. In total, we cut 832 programs. Each department of government was reduced. An 8 percent cut in spending in real dollars spent not against some phony baseline. But with this Legislature’s help, again we balanced the budget without raising taxes.”
“Our handling of the budget is but one example of the change that I told New Jersey had arrived with our inauguration. I’ve come to this chamber in the years since that day urging us to do the big things to transform our state; to make the tough decisions we had avoided for far too long. But here we are, three years later, and look at all of those things some called impossible in this town that we have made a reality.”
“A real 2% property tax cap. Interest arbitration reform. Pension and health benefit reform. Teacher tenure reform. Higher education restructuring resulting in Rutgers now being in the top 25 in research dollars and the newest member of the Big 10. $1.3 billion in new capital investment in all our universities for the first time in 25 years. A ground breaking teacher contract in Newark that finally acknowledges merit pay. Three years ago, a national reputation for corruption and division and waste. Today, a national model for reform and bipartisanship and leadership. Let’s review this new reality specifically, to remind our constituents and ourselves how far we have come and to resolve to never return to the old, dark days of our past in Trenton.”
“Four years. Four balanced budgets. No new taxes. New tax relief to create 75,000 new private sector jobs.”
Christie also stated the achievements of the administration in education: “ I could stand here and congratulate us today for the following:”
• Ensuring accountability by passing the first major reform of tenure in 100 years;
• Establishing performance based pay in Newark through hard-nosed collective bargaining so that we can reward and retain the very best teachers where we need them most;
• Implementing inter-district school choice, which has tripled its enrollment in the last 3 years and will grow to 6,000 students next year;
• Growing the number of charter schools to a record 86 in New Jersey;
• Signing the Urban Hope Act to turn failing schools into Renaissance Schools in Newark, Trenton, and Camden;
• And finally, investing the largest amount of state aid to education in New Jersey history , $8.9 billion in this year’s budget, over $1 billion higher than in Fiscal Year 2011.
Christie also took a jab at Washington politics stating “maybe the folks in Washington, in both parties, could learn something from our record here. Our citizens certainly have, now 61 percent of them believe our state is moving in the right direction, more than double the amount that believed it on that cold day in January three years ago.”
Christie then told of a story about a nine year old girl named Ginger, who had touched him as he toured the devastated areas after Sandy and referenced her in his closing remarks. “Let us prove, once and for all, that what I said to Ginger is undeniably true: The adults are in charge. Let’s accomplish the mission of rebuilding our battered state and restoring the hope and the faith and the trust of our people that government can work in a bipartisan way to restore our great way of life to all New Jerseyans.”