Last year’s February Budget Address by Governor Christie provides not only a walk down memory lane but also fodder for his opponent in the upcoming gubernatorial election. Below are statements from his speech:
“The New Jersey Comeback has begun.” It didn’t happen and the banner disappeared.
“We have avoided overly optimistic assumptions about revenue.” One of his biggest misstatements as revenue collections in New Jersey are running $426 million below the budgeted amount.
“I propose that we provide tax relief to every New Jersey citizen – an across-the-board 10% cut in their income taxes.” That was advantageous only for the wealthy and has been held in abeyance.
“The reform we enacted has made employee pensions safer and more reliable.” Nonetheless, New Jersey’s long-term debt grew by $6 billion in fiscal 2012, largely because of its failure to meet pension payments.
“I propose that we better engage and serve New Jersey’s most vulnerable citizens. I propose to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit, from 20% to 25% over the next two years.” He later made this proposal subject to passing a tax decrease and then vetoed the legislature’s bill, so it never happened. In the meantime, as he added higher fees and commuter costs, helping the vulnerable seemed to be on the back-burner.
“We need to pass the Opportunity Scholarship Act.” It didn’t happen.
“We have it within our power to make New Jersey, once again, the economic engine of our region.” 2012’s NJ unemployment rose from 9.0% to 9.7%, and Chase/JP Morgan forecasts our economic recovery has lagged the nation’s.
Well, he did achieve some of his goals, and a governor generally does not get everything he wants, makes misstatements, and errs in his projections. Nonetheless, as police are known to explain, “Anything you say may be used against you.”
Christie’s recent State of the State Address was all about Sandy and boastful self-congratulations, with no specifics about future plans. We will see what he proposes in his address next month for the current underperforming budget and the new Budget ending June 2014. And what he says and does not say will provide even more fodder.