New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is living like he’s dying. Politically speaking. He’s been given a terminal sentence. He may only have four years left to live. And no one is going to tell him how to spend his possible last days in office.
He froze spending. He’s cutting the budget. And if the teachers don’t like it, well…as my mother use to say, they have the same pants to get glad in. Christie is out to save a state and he won’t let a trifle thing like politics and his future reelection get in the way.
…Christie has become the politician so many Americans crave, one willing to lose his job.
Here’s his bucket list.
Christie stepped into New Jersey governorship at a time the state has a $29.3 billion budget and a $10.7 billion deficit. What Christie in his budget speech to the state legislature in March called “fiscal hemorrhaging.”
“The distance between New Jersey’s projected revenues for next year and the state’s spending obligations under current law, if nothing is changed, is $10.7 billion,” Christie said. “As a percentage of the prior fiscal year’s $29 billion budget, it is a massive deficit – the largest deficit of any state in America, and the largest in our own history — by far. No fiscal crisis we have had in New Jersey’s history compares to this one.”
Upon taking office Christie declared a state of emergency, signing an executive order that froze spending, and then, in eight weeks, cutting $13 billion in spending. In March he presented to the Legislature his first budget, which cuts 9 percent of spending, including more than $800 million in education funding; seeks to privatize numerous government functions; projects 1,300 layoffs; and caps tax increases.
And the teachers unions don’t like it.
The teachers unions that hired 11,300 new education jobs last year while the state lost 121,000 private sector jobs.
The teachers unions whose overall employment increased 16 percent over the last eight years while student enrollment only increase 3 percent.
The teachers unions whose pay increased 5 percent during the recession while statewide unemployment has gone from 5.2% in January 2008 to 10.3% in January 2010.
The same teachers unions who were merely asked by Christie to accept a one-year wage freeze and contribute 1.5% to their generous health care plans.
Those are the state teachers unions who are upset by a governor attempting to save their state from financial ruin.
Christie, more concerned with doing his job than campaigning for it, is mapping a blueprint for financial reform in the upcoming elections, fiercely against raising taxes on a New Jersey population already bled dry.
Christie is adamant about lowering taxes. After taxes were raised 115 times in the last eight years, he said the wealthy are tapped out. Property taxes rose nearly 70 percent in the last decade, and studies show top earners — the 1 percent of taxpayers paying 40 percent of income tax — are fleeing the Garden State.
In his budget speech, Christie said the day of reckoning had arrived, a day the state could no longer hide the budget pitfall awaiting them. The Legislature will decide if it will lead the nation in reform when it passes a budget on June 30.
“Today, we are fulfilling the promise of a smaller government that lives within its means,” Christie said. “Today, we begin doing what we promised we would do.”
That is what New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been doing, changing political promises from rhetoric to reality.