Despite the governor’s sound bites, bullying and rhetoric, the fact remains that New Jersey is in far worse shape today than when he was sworn in six years ago. While the governor wags a finger of blame at unions, the reality is that he is responsible for this mess. His failed policies mean that families are working harder and bringing home less than at any time in recent history. The only ones moving up the economic ladder are those already on the top rungs. Why would anyone vote for a failed state official to run the whole country?
Gov. Christie paused his floundering presidential campaign to deliver his annual State of the State address on Tuesday, January 12, 2016. He’s been out of state so much – all or part of 261 days last year – campaigning in New Hampshire and Iowa that it’s hard to imagine that our governor knows, or cares, how the working families back home are really doing:
- Pensions/Retirement Security. Christie’s sound bite on public pensions – that benefits are “gold-plated” or that public workers are overcompensated in retirement – simply isn’t true. Research comparing the country’s 100 largest pension funds found New Jersey to be among the least generous, ranking 95th. The average yearly pension benefit is $26,000, just enough to provide a financial cushion to workers who spent their careers in public service. Christie’s own “irresponsible policies” have left our once-viable pension system in peril. Despite his rhetoric, New Jersey is the country’s biggest pension deadbeat, according to a watchdog group. While he has put $4.4 billion into the pension system, he has skipped $17.5 billion in payments required by the pension reform law he signed and touted around the country. New Jersey has suffered nine credit downgrades as a result of his fiscal irresponsibility, which makes it more expensive for the state to borrow money.
- Transportation. Working people are finding it harder to commute because roads and bridges are crumbling with overuse and the rail tunnels that connect to New York City are ancient. He canceled a new rail tunnel and forfeited a $3 billion federal match, but now, after years of unnecessary delay, he says we need the project. The state’s transportation fund is broke and the governor has advanced no credible plan to fix it, despite a re-election campaign promise that funding transportation was a top priority.
- Education. Christie acknowledged that a college education costs too much, but he hasn’t done enough about it. College costs in NJ are the fourth-highest in the country, and the state has cut 25 percent of its per student spending since the recession, according to a report by the Student Impact Project. With students and families responsible for an average 60 percent of college costs, the burden is too heavy for many working families.
- Jobs. While Christie touts the number of jobs that have been created while he’s been governor, he doesn’t divulge that his state is one of just 13 that have not recovered all the jobs lost during the Great Recession, or that New Jersey is the eighth slowest state in job growth.
- Atlantic City. One in four casino workers is unemployed, four casinos have closed and others are in financial distress, and our governor turned his back when this seaside resort fell on severely hard times.
- Storm Recovery. Superstorm Sandy victims are making do in temporary housing more than three years after the storm destroyed their homes and uprooted their lives.