Murphy: Try not to spend money. Christie: Seriously? (paraphrased)
TRENTON — A letter written by Governor-Elect Phil Murphy to still-Gov. Chris Christie asks the latter not to spend any unnecessary state money and stress New Jersey's budget.
But the letter, which listed 13 other requests, was not received well by the outgoing governor —especially after it was leaked to the media before he received it.
"I am particularly grateful for your willingness to share the hard truths about the state of our state," Murphy wrote, noting that their budget teams met last week. The Democrat, who takes office on Jan. 16, described his concern about "the potential for significant shortfalls as we conclude the Fiscal Year 2018 budget."
Murphy also mentioned the proposed federal Republican tax plan that Christie supports, which he said "would generate even more fiscal uncertainty" if passed.
Citing a similar letter Christie sent then-Gov. Jon Corzine during their transition, Murphy asked Christie to not spend any discretionary special municipal aid and extraordinary aid accounts; freeze new appointments and re-appointments to boards and commissions; freeze all non-essential hiring, promotions and raises; and advise the transition staff about any major financial transactions.
Murphy included a hand-written note about his "deep appreciation for this and for all" at the bottom off his letter.
Christie responded to the letter with a sarcastic mention about an "elaborate non-disclosure agreement" that his transition team was asked to sign being responsible for the leak to the media before he received the letter.
"I am confident you will attend to (this) immediately," Christie wrote.
The governor also said his budget is in much better shape than the one left by Corzine, and that his transition team did not receive any budget updates from his own predecessor.
"In other words, I can only wish to have inherited a budget in the shape that I am passing to you," Christie wrote.
Christie said that his budget addressed the questions raised by Murphy during a budget briefing with his team, but because the Democrat did not attend the briefing he is getting "obviously inaccurate, second-hand information." He suggested that Murphy get a briefing directly from the state treasurer in order to be better prepared to put together his first budget.
The letter ended with a "Merry Christmas" to Murphy's wife and children.
During the most recent "Ask the Governor" program on New Jersey 101.5, Christie said his job is not to insert himself into Murphy's transition and that he hoped for a transition that is open and transparent but not invasive.
"I am here as a resource if he needs it," Christie said. He said that his wife, Mary Pat, took Tammy Murphy on a tour of Drumthwacket, the official governor's residence in Princeton, and had a "cordial, productive" meeting about being the spouse of the governor.
He said that Corzine and his staff barely met with Christie as he prepared for office.
"He made it clear he didn't want me to step foot in the governor's office until I was governor," Christie said.