Live Blog: Chris Christie on ‘Ask the Governor’
Chris Christie is on hand for new session of 'Ask the Governor' this evening, and we are blogging the entire hour, starting at 7 p.m. You can submit questions for the governor by texting to GOV at 89000 or phoning 1-800-283-1015.
7:56 - Responding to an email question, Gov. Christie said he's never been a "gardener," and he does NOT work outside on the lawn. He said inside the house "we all pitch in to clean up," and he "makes sure the checkbook" is balanced. He's now singing Bruce's "waiting on a sunny day."
7:51 - Responding to a caller question on the Port Authority, Gov. Christie noted "We've been very tough on every one in terms of raises because of the tough fiscal conditions we're in." He noted they've restricted raises to 2% or below in statehouse as well.
7:45 - Discussing a caller question, about unemployment extension benefits, Gov. Christie noted this is is a federal issue "New Jersey cannot do it without federal authority to do it."
7:42 - Responding to a question from a caller on legalizing marijuana, Gov. Christie noted, "I am not going to be the governor who is going to tell our children and young adults that marijuana use is ok, because it's not," and he added, the Journal of Neuroscience has published a study as recently as a few days ago that suggested that even casual marijuana use leads to issues with motivation and other brain issues.
7:39 -Christie was asked what he would do to fix budget problems if he had a "magic wand," and Christie responded, "I'll tell you soon."
7:34 - Answering a caller question on proposed budget cuts, he responded to the cuts on "various cancer institutions." He noted that cancer research is still the third largest part of the Department of Health's budget, but that "lots of other" people fund cancer research through private funding, and he said, "if you are going to spend 94 cents out of every dollar for pensions for people who have already retired, for health benefits for people who retired, and current employees, and debt service, that doesn't leave a lot of money to spend on things like cancer research."
7:31 - Discussing Easter Sunday at Drumthwacket, Gov. Christie acknowledged serving two dinners, "for our 2-5 shift, we had Mary Pat's family and members of my family." He noted Mary Pat has nine siblings, and 7 were at there with their families, as well as his younger sister, her husband, and their five children. "Got them out at 5:15, and then at 6 in came the entire Princeton University baseball teams, and their families, which amounted to 95 people," and he said they were there from 6 to 9 p.m. He said it was a "crazy but great" holiday.
7:27 - Answering a caller question from a teacher in a priority school, Gov. Christie noted he has "every intention" of proceeding with Common Core..and he noted that teachers are going to work longer if they extend their school days. "We've seen in other schools ... that have longer days and years the students do better," adding, "Every teacher worth their salt are going to want to spend more time in the classroom with their students."
7:23 - On being named Father of the Year, Gov. Christie said, "at the beginning I wasn't quite sure what it was, if someone was having fun with me," but after checking it out, he said he told his children "who got a good laugh," and he described it as a "nice honor." "It's particularly nice because it's the thing I care about most in my life."
7:21 - Addressing a caller from Lavallette who said she is still struggling to get her business reopened after Sandy, Gov. Christie reminded her about the Stronger than the storm grant program, up to a $5 million loan, and no payment on the loan for the first two years.
7:20 - Addressing an email question, on the planned closures of two developmental centers, Gov. Christie noted that people who are appropriate for placement will still have amenities to them.
7:16 - Addressing a caller question on pensions, Gov. Christie noted that "no governor in the history of NJ has put more into the pension system," than his administration, and that in the near future, the state will be paying out more in retiree benefits than for current employees, which he said, means, the state will be paying "more for people who are doing nothing than for people who are doing something." He added the "system is not sustainable," and " for those in the legislature and other positions, I don't know how you justify that position."
7:13 - Discussing Bridgegate and the possibility of having to testify Gov. Christie declined to comment on testifying about Bridgegate, noting "we're fully cooperating" with the investigation.
7:12 - Discussing ombudsman position, Gov. Christie said: "if they have concerns about anything going on in the office, to raise it" to his office.
7:10 - Discussing Port Authority recommendations, "Gov. Cuomo and I are the only two poeple elected in either state who have authority over Port Authority." He said he's looking forward to considering all recommendations and to have a "good conversation with Gov. Cuomo." He added the "place was in much worse shape when I got there," noting that transparency has improved Port Authority. He added that "reform is needed," but he said he's not going to respond to each suggestion individually.
7:06: Discussing Sandy applications, Gov. Christie said "we're doing 600 grant closures this month, it's objectively getting faster." New federal money has not been approved yet, and wont' be approved in May, he said, and he said until that's approved, people cant get taken off the RREM program. "overwhelming majority of people, 18 months later, are back in their homes," he said. He noted the Sandy town hall meeting later this week, noting it will be "troubleshooting."
7:05: - Discussing the Pulaski Skyway closure, Gov. Christie said: "It's going to be a pain in the neck, but a bigger pain in the neck would be the collapse of the Pulaski skyway...it's been ignored by so many previous administrations it's time fix it." He acknowledges some "inconvenience to people," but, he said "we're getting to work."
7:05 - Discussing the nice weather, Gov. Christie said "You'd have to be a "gloomy gus" to not "be happy on a day like today."