As Gov. Christie launched his bid for the Republican nomination for president on Tuesday, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO reviewed his record on issues important to working families. Here are the results:
He Broke His Word – and Broke the Law. Christie coaxed Democratic lawmakers to the table on a promise of restoring the state pension system to fiscal health. He extracted painful concessions from active workers and retirees in exchange for a legal commitment to phase in the state’s full pension payment. Workers and retirees did their part – and Christie eventually went to court to have his own pension reform law declared invalid. His continued refusal to uphold the law he championed and signed has left the pension system in worse shape than when he became governor six years ago.
He Enriched His Friends. While shirking his legal responsibility to fund the pension system, Christie has turned over bigger and bigger portions of the pension investment portfolio to private fund managers. New Jersey paid a record $615 million in fund management fees last year, more than four times the amount paid to outside firms during Gov. Jon Corzine’s last year. The Wall Street managers didn’t beat the S&P 500, but NJ’s in-house pension managers did. Many of those fees went to firms run by big GOP donors.
He Mismanaged the Economy. New Jersey's economy has consistently lagged other states under Christie. The rate of economic growth in 2014 was 46th. Personal incomes of New Jersey residents also grew at a slower rate than neighboring states and the nation as a whole last year. Christie gave away more than $5 billion in corporate welfare, then rejected a bill to document the effectiveness of his signature economic growth strategy.
He Failed to Create Jobs. The state’s unemployment rate of 6.5 percent is the seventh highest of the 50 states, and a full point above the national jobless rate.
He Bullied Teachers and Undermined Public Education. He berated teachers for receiving a “full-time salary for a part-time job,” attacked the NJEA for fighting to preserve members’ pensions and advocated for public school dollars to be funneled to charter and religious schools.
He Wrecked the State’s Borrowing Credit. The governor’s failure to fiscally manage the state well has resulted in a record 9 credit downgrades among Wall Street rating agencies, the highest of any governor in New Jersey history. What that means for taxpayers is that the state pays more to borrow money – New Jersey is a worse credit risk now than when Christie became governor, despite the economic recovery happening around us.