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Reaction to the State of the State Address

Democrat leadership (L-R) Senator Loretta Weinberg, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald, Assembly Speaker Vincent Pierto and Senate President Steve Sweeney
Democrat leadership (L-R) Senator Loretta Weinberg, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald, Assembly Speaker Vincent Pierto and Senate President Steve Sweeney (NJ TV)

Reaction from Trenton politicos to Governor Christie’s State of the State address.

Democrats

Statement of Milly Silva, 1199SEIU Executive VP and former Lt. Gov. candidate

Barbara Buono and Milly Silva (L) deliver a concession speech
Barbara Buono and Milly Silva (L) deliver a concession speech (NJ TV)

“At a time when the public’s faith in the state’s highest office has been shattered, New Jersey needs leadership that is trustworthy, accountable, and transparent. Last year, public tax dollars were misused time and again to carry out what appear to be petty political schemes—October’s $12 million special election, the “Stronger than the Storm” ad campaign, and Bridgegate.

“These scandals have taken precious resources and attention away from the pressing concerns that face poor and middle-class families. In 2014, New Jersey needs to renew its focus on issues that matter—such as reducing our poverty rate which has reached a level not seen in over 50 years and lowering our unemployment rate which continues to be the worst in the region.

“Unfortunately, today Governor Christie had very little to say in the way of finding solutions to these critical problems, instead preferring to congratulate himself on non-existent success.”


Republican

Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth)

Declan O'Scanlon
Declan O’Scanlon (Facebook)

“New Jersey is moving forward on momentum fueled by our having passed the most sweeping reforms in the state in the last 50 years. Both sides of the aisle deserve credit for that, and Gov. Christie deserves credit for his leadership in making it happen.

“Bipartisan cooperation has given us four balanced budgets and reigned in spending. Working together, we have reformed pension and health benefits, capped property taxes, and helped bring jobs and economic opportunity back to New Jersey.

“I look forward to working together with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, with Gov. Christie’s continued leadership, to complete the work we have started, and to deliver the tax relief that is so desperately needed by all New Jersey taxpayers.”

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union)

“The people of New Jersey have every reason to be optimistic about the future based on Governor Christie’s proven track record over the last four years. Reducing property taxes, eliminating unused sick leave payouts and improving education must be the Legislature’s top priorities. If our focus remains on solving issues by listening to each other and working together rather than trying to score political points, we can achieve great things in the new legislative session.”

Assembly Republican Deputy Conference Leader Mary Pat Angelini (R – Monmouth)

“Gov. Christie’s leadership over the past four years, has helped New Jersey weather the most sustained recession on record. In spite of the economic impact of the Superstorm, unemployment is falling at a record pace, and since February 2010, sustained job creation has replaced almost every one of the 156,000 private sector jobs lost during in the decade before Gov. Christie came to Trenton.

“There is more to be done to help New Jersey taxpayers hold on to more of their pay checks. Working together, the Governor and the Legislature have capped property taxes, and with a little more bipartisan cooperation, we can cut those property taxes by agreeing on further reforms, like resolving the issue of ‘unused sick leave,’ a $900 million expense for taxpayers.”

Assembly Republican Whip Scott Rumana, (R-Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Morris)

“Just four short years ago, New Jersey was on the brink of bankruptcy. Under the leadership of Gov. Christie we have made great progress during his first term in office by giving taxpayers four responsible balanced budgets without increasing taxes. We have also kept spending and property taxes under control while reforming the public employee pension and healthcare system that will save taxpayers $120 billion over 30 years.

“His proposals for the coming year, which include a long-overdue and much needed tax cut for our residents and businesses as well as eliminating the costly practice of paying public employees for unused sick time, will keep New Jersey on a sound fiscal track moving forward.”

Assemblyman Gilbert “Whip” Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester), sponsor of legislation for a longer school day and longer school year.

“A longer school day and year will help our students become more competitive in our global economy, and I’m glad to see the Governor agrees with me,” said Assemblyman Wilson. “Too much time is spent at the beginning of the school year reviewing information the students learned the year before, but lost during the summer vacation.”

Five states have joined a three-year pilot program to study the benefits of a longer school year. 20,000 students attending 40 schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee will take part in the study. Supporters of the extended school year point to research that shows students score better at the beginning of summer than they do at the end of summer when taking tests on the same subject matter.

“A longer school year allows teachers more time to concentrate on meaningful instruction,” Assemblyman Wilson added. “I look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to pursue this option, which holds benefits for all levels of learning.”

On being asked to escort the Governor into the State of the State, Assemblyman Wilson said that it was a deep honor to represent the residents of the Fifth District in such a prestigious position.

“Growing up in Camden, I never dreamed I would be able to do the many amazing things I have done in my life,” Assemblyman Wilson said. “I have become an elected official, met the President of the United States, and now I get to escort our governor. I am truly thankful for this opportunity.”


Organizations

N.J. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Bracken’s

We were very pleased with the tone and the content of the governor’s State of the State address. We’ve heard many times in the past week that the business of the state must continue, and we were encouraged to hear Gov. Christie reiterate that emphatically today.

As the governor said, we cannot let distractions prevent us from continuing to aggressively move forward to improve the state’s economy. Our gains in recent years have been hard fought. We must keep our focus on growing the economy and generating jobs.

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and the business community stand ready to work with the governor and the Legislature to continue to advance the state’s competitive position. We look forward to hearing the governor outline his priorities at our Congressional Dinner in Washington on Feb. 13.

Charles Wowkanech, president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO

“With all of the ideas and legislation unveiled today, working families must be provided a seat at the table. We proved in raising the minimum wage our ability forge broad bipartisan majorities in every corner of the state for issues that ultimately benefit the middle class. On the heels of our success at the ballot box, we are prepared to continue fighting for the middle-class values of our state.

“Any new laws and rules, like civil service reform, must be fair to workers and actually give our communities real tools to improve life for all residents and not just pit them against each other.

“Any efforts to further change pensions must be done in partnership with the men and women who contribute and would be directly impacted. The state must understand its need to live up to its obligations and not require workers to shoulder the burden of returning to solvency by themselves.

“And if we want to enact sweeping reforms in our classrooms, we must unlock the billions of construction dollars currently being held back from building and upgrading schools – an investment that would help our kids, our teachers, and create thousands of jobs.

“Despite the differences in their words, our state’s leaders today spun a common thread – a goal to make New Jersey an even better and more affordable place to live, work, and raise a family. The New Jersey State AFL-CIO shares these goals, and we are eager to join our elected leaders in tackling these issues. The concerns of New Jersey’s beleaguered middle class are the concerns of our labor movement.

“Some within the administration have sought to divide labor, yet we remain united as ever in our core principles of strengthening the middle class and ensuring fairness for all working families. And, as with the minimum wage, we will not hesitate to engage our million-strong constituency to fight as one to protect those common values.”

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