Christie Addresses Chamber ‘Walk to Washington’ Dinner
New Jersey’s business and political leaders heard from Gov. Chris Christie (R) in Washington as part of the annual Walk to Washington event.
In a 35-minute address that sounded a lot like a stump speech by the possible 2016 presidential candidate, he touted some fiscal accomplishments of his first term, such as lowering the rate of property tax increases and providing tax breaks to attract and keep businesses.
But, with New Jersey among the most indebted states and Wall Street rating agencies expressing concerns about its economic outlook, Christie acknowledged that more needs to be done.
The second-term governor struck some familiar fiscal themes, such as the need to make further changes to public workers’ retirement benefits and re-adopt a 2 percent cap on raises to police officers and firefighters who take their contracts to arbitration.
He mentioned Detroit’s bankruptcy filing and warned that dire consequences would result for New Jersey if the Legislature fails to act.
“What’s happening in the Legislature right now, in my opinion they are just scared,” Christie said, before adding, “It’s time to dig in and make a few people unhappy so the greater good can be achieved.”
The “Walk,” takes place on a special chartered Amtrak train dubbed the “Cherry Blossom Express” with hundreds of business leaders and politicians on board.
The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce had to reschedule Tuesday’s annual Walk to Washington because of a snowstorm in February.
The “Walk,” a 76-year tradition according to the Chamber, got underway with a breakfast at the Hilton Hotel at Newark’s Penn Station featuring a speech by Verizon Vice President Sam Delgato and a brunch near Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station before continuing the journey to Washington according to the official schedule.
Retiring U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D) and Chris Smith (R) also addressed the gathering. The dinner started with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” sung to former Gov. Brendan Byrne, who recently celebrated his 90th. It also included a recollection of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died last year at age 89.
The event is dubbed the “Walk to Washington” because most people walk the aisles of the train networking as it heads to the nation’s capital.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.