Gov. Chris Christie returned to New Jersey from the national campaign trail for a town hall meeting Thursday afternoon, held at the Burlington County YMCA in Mt. Laurel on Centerton Rd.
Just off the bus from a swing through Ohio with GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, Christie was greeted by over 700 people in the gymnasium for his 96th town hall meeting since taking office in 2010. “Damn, it’s good to be home,” he said as he entered to a standing ovation.
“Being on the bus in Ohio for two days with Mitt Romney convinces me more and more that I made the right decision not running for president last year,” he said. “It’s crazy out there, just absolutely crazy.” Christie said as he travels the country stumping for GOP candidates, he’s amazed just how much people know about the issues in New Jersey.
“But it’s not about me. It’s about the issues we’re working on, the things that we’re trying to accomplish, the way we’re confronting things together as a community, as a state, that are making people hopeful in other parts of the country that they can experience the same kind of thing,” he said.
The Middle Class
Christie’s agenda for the town hall meeting Thursday focused on middle class reform and issues in the state including property taxes, sick leave, shared services and criticisms of state democrats.
Christie touted his property tax cap of 2 percent as a success, stating Burlington County’s tax increase average is 1.7 percent. Now, he says, the issue is preventing municipalities from adding other fees to get around the cap.The Assembly is currently sitting on the user fee bill that would mandate such fees be included in the 2 percent tax cap. “We want that cap to work. We don’t want people to go around the cap.”
On the issue of sick leave for public employees, he said he is working towards his “zero means zero” plan that would put an end to employees with accumulated sick pay to collect the monetary value at the end of their employment.
“I always thought that the benefit you got for not using your sick days was not having been sick,” he said after calling the current system a “scam.”
Christie used his hometown of Mendham Township in Morris County as an example for the need of shared services across the state. He said that when he called the police in neighboring Mendham Borough, they wouldn’t help him despite living closer than the township’s police station.
He also used libraries as another example. “The books are the same,” he said as he rallied for support in shared services. “The task you gave me was to get state spending under control, and sometimes it ain’t going to be pretty,” he said, “but I didn’t take this job to become the prom king.”
As part of the town hall meeting, Christie fielded questions from the audience about privatizing services for public schools, health screenings, school vouchers, affordable housing, the housing market, and Good Samaritan laws.Despite his recent travels across the country supporting GOP candidates, Christie continues to leave supporters in the dark about his future political plans. “I don’t know if I’m going to run for reelection or not,” he said. “I’ve had many titles in my life. The most important: father, son, husband, brother.”