Christie’s State of the State Has ‘National Implications’
Gov. Chris Christie delivered his sixth State of the State Address Tuesday. The speech had national implications. Christie of course is seeking the Republican presidential nomination and his speech is being looked at through the prism of national politics.
He even started his address by saying it was good to be home. His ability to lead effectively was driven home time and again.
“We’ve achieved a victory for a different kind of politics,” Christie said. “Instead of accepting the cynicism and mediocrity of inaction here in New Jersey, we’ve shown what it means to achieve policies of consequence, principle and compromise. Instead of hiding from our problems or pretending they don’t exist, we’ve confronted them openly. More often than not, we’ve done it together, as Republicans and Democrats. We don’t agree on everything, but we don’t have to – as long as we keep talking to each other and trying to do the right thing.”
He said that was not how things are done in Washington. He accused the President and Congress of just blowing hot air when talking about the challenges the nation faces. President Barack Obama will deliver the State of the Union address Tuesday night and Christie, a GOP presidential hopeful, made sure to bring it up.
“The state of the union isn’t a call to action, it’s a fantasy wish list by a President who has failed us. It’s the world as he wishes it was; not the real world his failed leadership has left to all Americans,” the governor said.
Christie touted successes reforming teacher tenure for the first time in 100 years while providing more funding for education than ever before at over $12.8 billion. The governor talked about ushering in bail reform, putting more cops on the streets in Camden. Looking ahead, Christie talked about the need for better treatment for substance abuse and said his Administration is focused on keeping families and communities safe. The governor proclaimed that New Jersey’s best days are ahead.
Lowering the state’s unemployment rate was a major theme for the governor. He said since he took office, New Jersey has created 224,100 private-sector jobs. New Jersey’s unemployment rate has dropped to 5.3 percent, the lowest level since September 2008.
“On our watch, New Jersey has pulled back from the economic brink,” Christie said. “One of the achievements that I’m proudest of, we’ve helped thousands of people whose lives have been devastated by drugs to get the help they need. Instead of prosecuting a failed war on drugs, a war on our own citizens we’ve classified drug addiction as the illness it truly is, and worked to treat and rehabilitate some of the most vulnerable members of our society.”
Garden State lawmakers did not get a pass from Christie either.
“Now we face a truly dangerous moment,” The governor said. “We’ve got elections for a new governor and the entire Legislature less than two years away. So now all of you have a choice. Do we keep working to get things done and to move New Jersey forward? Or are we going to pander to special interests, and send New Jersey back to the bad old days? Unfortunately, we see signs of this already. Signs of fiscal irresponsibility to pander to a cynical leadership of a narrow constituency. We can’t let this happen.”
Other topics the governor said were successes for the state included:
- Landmark pension and health benefit reform;
- There are more than 9,400 fewer State government employees than when he took office;
- He has vetoed more legislation passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature than any governor in state history and not a single veto has been overturned;
- Each year since taking office, he has vetoed $7.5 million for Planned Parenthood and other family planning clinics; and
- He has increased the number of charter schools in New Jersey to 89, opening 39 since he took office.
Christie also criticized lawmakers who voted in favor of a constitutional amendment to require quarterly payments into the public employees’ pension. He said that leads the state down the road to ruin and puts special interests ahead of things like hospitals, education funding, transportation projects, anti-hunger efforts and more. He said the amendment would cost $3 billion and mean huge tax hikes.
“How about that New Jersey? Twenty-three percent more of your money to Trenton? To pay for pensions," he asked. "Show of hands in this room from those of you who voted for this amendment. Ten percent sales tax? Twenty-three percent increase in the income tax?”