Gov. Chris Christie used his 2013 State of the State address to again urge Congress to quickly approve federal hurricane relief funds. “We have waited 72 days, seven times longer than victims of Hurricane Katrina waited. One thing I hope everyone now clearly understands—New Jersey, both Republicans and Democrats, will never stand silent when our citizens are being short changed,” Christie said.
Christie said despite Sandy’s wallop, New Jersey will be back “stronger than ever” after the storm. A large portion of the speech was dedicated to several examples of heroic acts made by some during the storm. He gave this example of a woman who swam in a flooded street to make it to work at a nearby hospital.
In Toms River, Marsha Hedgepeth, an emergency room technician, had the day off when Sandy hit her hometown. She could have gotten herself to safety and forgotten about her colleagues at the community medical center and most importantly her patients. Instead, facing several feet of water on her flooded street, she swam to higher ground, then hitchhiked with a utility worker from Michigan and got to the hospital for a 12-hour shift treating her fellow citizens. Swimming through flood waters to save lives—thank you Marsha for setting such a great example.
The governor largely blames Sandy for the state’s slower than anticipated economic growth. “Just when we were coming back from the national recession, Sandy disrupted our economic life.”
David Rosen, a budget analyst for the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services, recently testified that tax revenues are way below the predictions the Governor used to balance the current budget year. He told members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee that it would take “spectacular revenue acceleration” for the next six-months to meet original projections.
In today’s State of the State, Christie said despite the lull in the economy, he remains optimistic and gave several reasons why things are headed in the right direction:
· Unemployment is coming down.
· 2011 was our best private sector job growth year in eleven years and 2012 is also positive.
· Personal income set a record high in New Jersey for the seventh quarter in a row.
But New Jersey Democrats say Christie is conveniently overlooking some numbers. Shortly after Christie’s speech, Democrats fired back in their official response. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said much of the job growth cited by Christie is made up of jobs that pay $10 an hour. “We know that that is not the kind of job growth we need in the state of New Jersey. We know that our unemployment rate continues to hover at 9.6 percent.” Oliver said Christie was accurate when he said personal income is up but she said that is only half the picture, “Our poverty rate has increased by 11 percent.”
The governor will present his next fiscal budget to the legislature in the coming months. It’s likely that the governor will come under more pressure for his overly-optimistic revenue projections used in the current spending plan.
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NJTV will broadcast Gov. Chris Christie’s State of the State address live on Tuesday, January 8, beginning at 2 p.m. As a public service, NJTV is streaming its feed live on the internet and allowing it to be shared on websites. Christie will speak to members of the Assembly and the Senate in the Assembly Chambers in the Statehouse, 125 West State St., Trenton.
The governor’s speech is likely to focus heavily on state efforts to rebuild shore towns hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Christie was one of several high profile New Jersey and New York politicians to blast the House GOP leadership in Washington for ending the year without taking a Congressional vote on disaster aid.
One issue Christie will have to defend is his call for tax cuts. Legislative budget expert David Rosen says revenue collections are running far behind the 7 percent projected by Gov. Christie.
The Republican Governor remains a popular governor in the heavily Democratic state. In a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind survey showed 73 percent of registered voters say they approve of Christie’s job performance.
That bodes well for Christie who is seeking a second term as governor this year. Democratic state Senator Barbara Buono is running for the her party’s nomination to challenge Christie and there are other Democrats who are said to be mulling a run. Two names most often mentioned as possible candidates are state Senators Stephen Sweeney and Dick Codey.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who many thought would challenge Christie this year, announced last month that he won’t run but instead may seek the U.S. Senate in 2014.
Let us know what you think of the Governor Christie’s speech in the comments below.