Tag Archive: State of the State

Governor Chris Christie’s 2013 State of the State Address

Shorter Christie: A noun, a verb, and Hurricane Sandy.

If nothing else, Gov. Christie’s choice to spend so much time during this annual address talking about the event that makes his approval ratings go pop-pop-pop should let Senate President Steve Sweeney off the damned hook. What he said was inopportune (he apologized immediately), and no way to announce he was running for Governor if that’s what he had in mind, but the Governor’s choices in this speech almost seem to make what Sweeney said look true.  

This is the text of Gov. Chris Christie’s 2013 State of the State Address, as prepared for delivery, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 before a Joint Session of the New Jersey State Legislature.

Lt. Governor Guadagno, Madam Speaker, Mr. President, members of the Legislature, fellow New Jerseyans.

Since George Washington delivered the first State of the Union in New York on this day in 1790, it has been the tradition of executive leaders to report on the condition of the nation and state at the beginning of the legislative year.  So it is my honor and pleasure to give you this report on the state of our state.

One year ago, we were scheduled to gather on this second Tuesday in January when our friend and colleague Alex DeCroce passed suddenly the night before, causing us to delay this report.  I miss the hard work and kind spirit of Alex. I think of him often, but I am so pleased to see his wife Betty Lou here in this chamber as a duly elected member of the Assembly today.  She continues his work and does honor to his memory.

Just three months ago, we were proceeding normally with our lives, getting ready for a national election and the holidays to follow.  Then Sandy hit.

State of State: Hold Christie Accountable

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Tomorrow TODAY at 2 p.m. Governor Chris Christie is set to deliver his State of the State Address.   I’m going to be live-tweeting it at @JoshuaHenne. And I hope some of you will join in on holding him accountable, as well.  Maybe we can even brush off the hashtag #ChristieFacts in the process.

In interviews leading up to the speech, Christie has made it clear he’ll be focusing on Superstorm Sandy in the address.  Now, there is no doubt this is important to not only the families and businesses hurt by the storm, but to everyone in New Jersey. Especially in light of GOP-controlled Congress playing political games with the relief funds. (The same Tea Party Speaker Boehner caved to is the one Christie fundraised and campaigned for just a few months prior, but that’s a whole other story).  But, we can’t let Christie skate by and simply focus on Sandy…and leave out everything else.

Christie didn’t wake up the morning after the storm hit and magically become governor that day. There is a 3-year record of failing New Jersey’s middle-class, families, women, students, teachers, cities, cops, firefighters, environmentalists, small business, etc, etc. The list goes on and on.

In 2009, candidate Chris Christie said we must hold a governor accountable. The same holds true today. Governor Christie runs a remarkable public relations machine and does a tremendous job bending the narrative in his favor, while simply ignoring the facts that don’t fit his polished story. However, the State of the State is about reality – not fiction.

To hear Christie talk these days, one would think his first day as Governor started the morning after Superstorm Sandy reached New Jersey’s shores. However, the dark clouds of Christie’s policies have been hovering over our state for a full three years. The people of New Jersey are strong and resilient, but our state has been neglected and is in a worse state of disrepair due to Christie.

Everyone agrees Superstorm Sandy was a hard hit for our state and devastated many families and businesses. But it is both unfortunate and cynical for Christie to use the devastating storm as a smokescreen to obfuscate his anemic record failures and misplaced priorities.  The people of New Jersey are strong and resilient. But our state has been neglected and is in a worse state of disrepair due to Christie. And the governor should have to answer for his full record that has consistently hurt New Jersey’s middle-class.

The same problems New Jersey faced before Superstorm Sandy are still facing our state. So, here are some of the facts that Governor Christie hopes you’ll forget. Because New Jersey has these issues – that predate Sandy and still matter:

• Unemployment is still hovering around 10%

• Since Governor Chris Christie took office, New Jersey has consistently trailed the rest of the nation when it comes to jobs…and still does.

• Under Christie, New Jersey reached the largest gulf between state and national unemployment averages since Jimmy Carter was president

• New Jersey residents suffered a gigantic net jump in property taxes since Christie took office – at one point reaching 20%

• New Jersey’s ranks as the 46th worst-run state in America.

• New Jersey’s state economy ranks 47th

• New Jersey’s business climate slipped to 41st

• As rates nationally have fallen to the lowest levels since 2008. New Jersey now has the 2nd highest percentage of mortgage loans in foreclosure in the nation.

• Commuters are dealing with higher train tickets, bus fares and tolls

• Schools in disrepair

• Higher tuition at public universities and colleges, while aid is cut

• 55% of New Jersey highways are in poor or mediocre condition

• 35% of New Jersey bridges are structurally deficient of functionally obsolete

• Christie claimed a mythical “Jersey Comeback” and based his budget on rosy revenue projections that were far from coming true well before Superstorm Sandy

• There is one stat in which Christie has New Jersey leading the nation. We just slipped to become the number one state that people are moving out of

I know everyone here at Blue Jersey knows the real Christie record.  So, let’s be sure to hold his feet to the fire. Let’s remind our neighbors, the press and pundits that Christie can’t hide from his 3-year record of failure and misplaced priorities.  Let’s hold Christie accountable today and throughout 2013.

How the Democrats and NJTV Can Improve

Watching the NJTV coverage of Governor Christie’s State of the State Address was like watching a train wreck. It’s no surprise that the station, run by Christie’s Adubato clan, made this broadcast just the opening salvo in the governor’s re-election campaign.

Of course, Christie is an excellent orator. That’s part of his appeal to the average voter. But it’s NJTV’s job to inform the average voter, not to provide an unchecked platform for the governor. And the Democrats are just abettors in this process.

News Roundup & Open Thread for Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Of course the big news is yesterday’s State-of-The-State Message
Read reactions from the Bergen RecordAsbury Park Press, Star Ledger (Mulshine), the Inquirer (Riordan), NJ Dems, and our own Deciminyan.
And, high praise from the other side.
What was Michelle Rhee doing there?

More snow
Up to a foot expected in some parts of the state, old hat by now. At least we know the Governor is in the State. Let’s see if he can do what he said he could have done from Orlando, but didn’t.

New Jersey Assembly to vote on film tax credits
Could this mean the next season of “Boardwalk Empire” will be filmed in New Jersey?

Meet the NJ Republican Party’s new state chairman

Saddle River Mayor Sam Raia, sworn in last night.

Who should pay for the $1.25B Christie squandered on the ARC tunnel?
Not the toll-payers, say the Democrats

Privatize the PATCO line?

Why mess with something that works?

Making college less affordable

Christie says he wants to do away with the 4 percent cap in tuition increases at the state's public universities, and let the market determine tuition.

Upcoming Events

Governor Christie Town Hall Meeting

Thursday, January 13
Paramus Elks B.P.O.E. 2001
200 Route 17 North
Paramus, NJ
Doors open at 10:00am

Public hearing on the impact of Gov Christie’s state education cuts

Hosted by Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex)
Thursday, January 20
6:00pm – 8:30pm
Edison High School Auditorium
50 Boulevard of the Eagles
Edison, NJ

Jon Corzine’s State of the State Address – Open Thread

This is Jon Corzine’s swan song, his last major address to the citizenry and to the legislature. We hear it’s a fairly short speech, maybe 30 minutes, and that it will be self-deprecating. He will express personal disappointment at how his service to the state is ending but he will also recognize some of the acheivements of his tenure.

You can watch it here.

The old ground is shifting. New governor, already warming up his chopping knives. New Senate President Steve Sweeney sworn in minutes ago. Sheila Oliver, first African-American woman to lead the Assembly. Change, change, change.

This is an Open Thread.

The State of the State is….

in theory, streaming live from this link starting at 1PM Eastern.

We know that Corzine is trying to be optimistic in his address, which is a tall order, given the $2 billion+ deficit, the fact that NJ gets less in federal dollars per dollar it sends to the Federal Government than any other state, and the sea of corruption around the state that continues to make headlines.

But that all being said, Corzine, who is up for re-election this year, will probably lay out a few things with an eye on November.  Let’s hope that he (and the other folks in Trenton) have some good ideas and the fortitude to make the right and tough choices in order to help the state’s fiscal health, as well as help NJ families.

And let’s also hope that other important issues to NJ families don’t get brushed aside “in the interest of more important matters”…

Quote of the Day: A sense of Optimism

The Governor will deliver his State of the State address tomorrow, amidst great economic turmoil and many questions waiting for answers.  The list of items on the agenda is long and set upon the backdrop of a $2.1 billion deficit that needs to be closed.  But the Governor has high hopes for his speech, which will tell us where we stand and how we will begin to tackle all of our problems:

“I’d like to have us understand that there are good things, but the challenges are real,” the governor said. “What are we going to about them?”

“I want to convey a sense of optimism,” he said.

Talk about a heavy lift.  He could get a helping hand from President Obama with a potential $6 billion in federal funds over the next two years.  What do you want to hear from the Governor tomorrow and what do you expect he will actually say?

Mark your calendars

The legislature put out their schedule for the first three months of 2009 and it tells us about a few dates of significance.

First, the Governor will deliver his State of the State address on Tuesday, January 13, before a joint session of the Legislature.  We’re in a difficult position right now with many problems on our plate, so this will probably be a very sobering address setting the stage for what we have to come.  Last year’s speech presented us with this agenda for the Governor:

“One: Freeze spending now,” Corzine said. “Two: Limit future spending to revenue growth. Three: Capture the enterprise value of our tollways to pay down debt and make capital investments. Four: Limit borrowing by requiring voter authorization.”

We already have the pension deferral plan that’s on hold, property tax reform, a projected budget shortfall, school financing, ethics reform and affordable housing as looming issues on the agenda.

The second significant event on the calendar is the Governor’s budget address.  This will chart the course for the future of our state and unveil the Governor’s proposals to balance our budget.  It is tentatively scheduled for February 24.  

We also have the political reality that the Governor and members of the Assembly will have their names on the ballot come November serving as a backdrop.

Some tough decisions are going to have to be made in these economic times in order to meet the midnight deadline of June 30 for balancing the budget.  That journey begins come the New Year and it may be a bumpy ride.

State of the State Open Thread (Flying Pigs edition)

Corzine’s State of the State address is scheduled for 3pm. If you’re watching, share your thoughts in the comments. It’s being broadcast on NJN and News 12.

“Too many office holders have betrayed the public trust…Today the public is frustrated.” Corzine points out the depressingly low voter participation rate in the last election.

We need to change the “credit card culture” of this state’s finances.

“Number one issue facing our state is fixing our financial foundation.”

Corzine says we should enact family leave insurance, more affordable housing, and ban pay-to-play at all levels of government. (hey, that sounds like what Codey/Roberts said we should do last week)

“Talking about our state’s finances is a little like watching the move Groundhog Day.”

Every man, woman and child personally owes $3,700 of state’s debt. First $860 in state taxes go towards interest and debt payments.

Just acknowledged the Congressional delegation.

4 elements to plan:

1. Freeze state spending at current level for next fiscal year. Must find $2-2.5 billion in budget cuts. Adjustments will be painful, but will pay the way to long term stability. Seeks advice from bipartisan group of legislators.

2. Incremental spending levels in future budgets can’t exceed recurring revenue. Ends one-time spending gimmicks. Any non-recurring revenues in the future will be used exclusively to pay down debt, trust fund, or pay unfunded health care costs.

3. Pay down 50% of state debt from toll revenue and fund transportation trust fund. (Super secret)

4. All debt without dedicated revenue source must be approved by voters. Public has told us they don’t trust our judgement (as already required by the Constitution). Stem cell research and open space ballot initiatives were a wake up call. Proposes constitutional amendment for voter-approved borrowing.

More details on asset monetization plan…

Pay back $16 billon in debt. Save $1 billion in annual debt payments. Cut structural deficit by 1/3.

10,000 miles of highways need to be resurfaced over next 10 years. 700 deficient bridges need repair. Need to expand mass transit. (light rail in Gloucester, Bergen). Widen AC Expressway, Turnpike, Parkway. State needs $3 billion by this summer to move forward with Hudson tunnel, or risk losing matching federal fund. Need $40 billion over 10 years to fix, expand roads/transit system.

“My plan involves significant toll hikes….Equally on all users.”

First increase in 2010 of 50%.Three future increases of up to 50% every four years for next 12 years.

By comparison, to fix only toll road bridges and widen turnpike would require at least a 45% increase in toll, or a 12 cent hike in gas tax.

Or 20% income tax increase or 30% sales tax increase…

To achieve by budget cuts alone, would require annual recurring $2.5 billion in budget cuts.

“Pigs will fly over the state house” before there are any realistic tax hikes or spending cuts to fix the budget mess.

Will have 21 town hall meetings in 21 counties.

Turnpike, Parkway, AC Expressway, Rt 440.

Roadways will not be sold, leased or anything else to for-profit or foreign operator. Will be owned by State of NJ. Public benefit corporation (PBC) will manage roadways. Will have own independent non-political board of directors.

Future financial benefits from roadway stays exclusively in NJ for benefit of NJ residents.

“Culture that created one of the nation’s highest tax burdens must end.”

Will debate over 2 months, but must come to judgement by the middle of March in order to move forward next fiscal year.

“If there’s a better plan…put it on the table….. It’s not something I want to do…its something we have to do.”

It’s over.

My thoughts…he was very rational. I like that his plan addresses all the problems facing the state, not just the huge deficit. Paying off the debt only to get back into debt in the future would put us in a worse position than we are now. Requiring future expenses to be matched by recurring revenue is critical if this plan is to go forward without us again falling back into debt. This is going to be a very hard sell, but ultimately, the alternative – to continue the status quo – is not an option.

Sen Tom Kean Jr: “I’ve got great concerns.” “It’s paying off the VISA card with an American Express.” Says we need spending cuts. He wasn’t asked where he’s going to cut $2.5 billion/year every year.

Alex DeCroce: Doesn’t like the plan either. Corzine won’t accept budget cuts we proposed. We could have had $800 million more for property tax relief. HAHAHAHA.

More Kean Jr: Zero-based budgeting. Identify spending cuts. He’s a broken record. Wahhh. We didn’t get a copy of the speech in advance. Someone call the Wahhhmbulance!

DeCroce: Agree with cutting debt in half, but we should go to voters first and ask if they agree.

More thoughts: I’m not too hopeful about this right now. Corzine went out of his way to present an honest assessment of the situation but DeCroce and especially Kean Jr immediately commenced with grandstanding. If the budget problem isn’t fixed, it won’t be because Corzine didn’t try. It will be because of folks like Kean Jr and anyone else who tries to score political points at the expense of our state’s future. I hope the Democratic caucus takes this as seriously as Corzine is. The time for half-measures passed long, long ago.