In his budget address, Gov. Christie took yet another swipe at his favorite target – public-sector workers – while remaining silent on some of the most serious problems facing our state. Roads and bridges are crumbling and the state is out of money to fix them. Our state ranks 49th out of 50 in job growth and a quarter of casino workers have been laid off, yet the state lacks a comprehensive plan to create jobs. Atlantic City has been devastated by casino closings, soaring property taxes and home foreclosures, but there is no plan to save this vital economic engine. Many of our largest cities and poorest communities continue to struggle without any revitalization plan. College costs are unaffordable for many, yet the governor has not addressed this inequity. It costs taxpayers more when the state borrows money, but Gov. Christie has taken no concrete steps to stop the record number of credit downgrades that have occurred on his watch.
The governor spent the lion’s share of today’s budget speech touting an agreement on a framework for further pension and health care reforms. Yet, he gave residents no details and provided workers no assurance that he wouldn’t break his word again. Gov. Christie promised in 2011 that the state would make its legally required pension payment, but it took a ruling from a Superior Court judge to force him to honor the law he signed. Public workers accepted austere raises and steep increases in their health care and pension costs. It’s time for the governor to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on legal challenges to his own reform law and make the $1.6 billion pension payment the law requires this year.
Today’s speech illustrated why Chris Christie should keep his focus squarely on New Jersey residents, not on Iowa caucus-goers.