State Of The State: Reaction To The Speech [VIDEO]
Governor Chris Christie delivered his annual State Of The State address Tuesday to a joint session of the New Jersey Legislature eliciting response from both sides of the aisle. Read the press releases from various politicians and organizations before and after the speech.
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R- Union)
In government, we should do what is proven to work and learn from what has failed.
New Jerseyans are more optimistic about the future of our state and her economy today than they have been in years because legislative Republicans and Governor Christie have taken our state in a different direction.
What we've been doing is working, despite the doomsday, class warfare predictions of those who were happy to continue spending money we didn't have and raising taxes to pay for it.
Business leaders are optimistic about the state's climate for job creation, and 60, 000 private sector jobs have been created. Property taxes are coming under control, and sanity has been restored to public pensions and benefits.
But most importantly, our insistence on fiscal discipline is keeping faith with taxpayers who were tired of being shaken down year after year to finance the whims of politicians.
The agenda put forth by Governor Christie and Republicans in the Senate and Assembly is yielding results. Today, the Governor rightly called on all of us to double down on a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda by reducing taxes for every New Jerseyan and restoring the earned income tax credit for the working poor.
We will show individuals and job creators that we are serious about not only stabilizing the cost of living and doing business in New Jersey, but actually reducing it.
I invite my colleagues to put nostalgia for the old days aside and join us in pressing forward with what has been working for New Jersey.
Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden)
“Let’s be clear about this – Gov. Christie’s income tax plan may sound nice, but it would save a family earning $50,000 per year just $80.50 and a family earning $100,000 per year just $275, all while a millionaires get a $7,265.75 tax break.
“Under this tax cut, middle-class families don’t save enough for a week’s worth of groceries, while millionaires save enough to go on an exotic vacation.
“The governor is once again missing the point. He continues to focus on tax breaks for the rich while middle-class families struggle with the highest property taxes in the nation. If the governor wants to cut a tax, let’s focus on finding a way to chop property taxes by 10 percent.
“Still, we will review any plan the governor puts forth, but it must be a plan and not a sound bite. Does he plan to take the money from schools to pay for his tax cut? Does he plan to let property taxes increase even more? We need to see a real plan, not political theater.
“Democrats will be focusing on continued way to combat property taxes and restore the property tax relief cut by this governor. He should join us in this effort.”
N.J. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Bracken
The governor's message is simple and direct. We are going to get New Jersey back to greatness.
The business community has felt the turnaround in New Jersey's business climate and the governor has challenged us to accelerate the momentum. We need to embrace that, and start immediately.
What better way to kick-start than to reduce taxes 10 percent across the board, which is a bold, courageous initiative to help set us apart from our competitor states.
The education reform outlined by the governor is also long overdue to strengthen New Jersey's education structure and maintain New Jersey's talented workforce.
This state has the potential to achieve new heights of greatness. The governor has a plan that can't be achieved without leadership. We have a great leader and we have a strong Legislature, both of whom have proven they can work in a bipartisan, collaborative manner. It is now up to us, the business community, to work with the administration and the Legislature to help execute the plan.
COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA
Today, New Jersey residents watched Governor Christie’s address and asked, where are the jobs?
Since Governor Christie took office, Pennsylvania has created 4 jobs and New York 5 jobs for every one new job in New Jersey. It is no surprise that with his failed jobs record, the Governor is anxious to change the subject, with even more tax cuts for the rich and new attacks on the thousands of men and woman who dedicate their careers to public service.
Instead of scapegoating the workers who build and fix our roads, keep our water clean, or protect New Jersey’s vulnerable children, the Governor should get back to work to create jobs and rebuild the economy for the middle class.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex)
“For the last two years, the Governor has ignored the economic and social realities of the working poor. All of the cuts that have been instituted by this administration have disproportionately equated to tax hikes on those who earn the least.
“A ten percent across-the-board income tax cut might make a nice sound bite, but ultimately it benefits the wealthiest far more than low and middle income earners. Essentially, what was proposed today was an $80 tax cut for families earning $50,000 and a $7,200 tax cut for families earning $1 million. And in order to achieve this, roughly $1 billion in revenue will have to be diverted from somewhere else.
“The obvious question is: Where will this money come from? And will it cut further into education funding or vital social programs that our poorest residents rely on as a lifeline?
“When the Governor travels to Irvington this week, I hope he takes a circumspect look at the realities that families in some of our poorest neighborhoods face. In order to truly help lift them out of poverty, we need a comprehensive investment, one that addresses the social ills that impact a child’s learning and a family’s ability to get ahead. Privatizing education and offering corporate tax credits for scholarships will not address these underlying factors,” said Oliver.
Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen
“This is a classic example of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Governor Christie’s income tax proposal would yield the greatest benefit to the highest income earners in the State, while middle- and low-income wager earners will see their tax credits disappear as they face a resultant increase in their property taxes caused by the Governor’s politics of class warfare.
“This is the sort of ‘promise the moon’ campaign rhetoric that makes people tired of the political process. Throwing the prospect of an income tax cut out there, without identifying a funding source, just seems to me to be irresponsible governing. And when the Legislature uncovers the funding source that the Governor has in mind – presumably school funding and property tax relief – we’ll be painted as obstructionists, simply because we don’t believe you can take with one hand, give with the other, and call it ‘relief.’
“The State of the State was a great stump speech for the Governor’s reelection campaign next year. But the Governor’s proposals – particularly the income tax cut – don’t hold water when exposed to even the slightest bit of scrutiny. The time for governing gimmicks to win points with national Republicans is over. The people of New Jersey – all the people, not just the protected class of millionaires which have received the bulk of the Governor’s favor since he came into office – deserve real solutions to the problems they face, not paper tigers which will do little to help those struggling to make ends meet in the Garden State.”
NFIB: Small Business Cheers Pledge of Lower Income Taxes
Governor Chris Christie’s State of the State Address was notable for its emphasis on improving New Jersey’s business climate and especially for his pledge to cut income taxes by 10 percent in every bracket, said the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) today.
“This is a major priority for small businesses in New Jersey because they pay the highest income tax rates in the region,” said NFIB State Director Laurie Ehlbeck. “The Governor clearly understands that the personal income tax is really a small business tax, and that it has to be lower if we’re going to be competitive.”
Ehlbeck pointed out that according to NFIB research three quarters of all small business owners pay their taxes as individual filers. She said also that at nearly 9 percent, New Jersey’s top income tax rate is one of the highest in the America, and that it hinders the state’s economic competiveness.
“We’re not built for competition with a tax rate that is higher than anywhere in the region,” said Ehlbeck. “This is a great signal to the business community that New Jersey values hard work and that its leaders want people to keep more of the money they earn.”
Ehlbeck predicted that with tax rates going up in other states, New Jersey will attract national attention if it moves in the opposite direction.
“This is going to stimulate the economy, and it’s going to generate a lot of interest in New Jersey as a place to do business,” said Ehlbeck.
These comments were released prior to the Governor's speech.
ONE NEW JERSEY: CHRISTIE IN A STATE OF DENIAL
(NEW JERSEY) – With Governor Chris Christie set to give his State of the State remarks today, it’s clear he is in a State of Denial….and because of that New Jersey’s middle-class families are in a State of Depression.
Christie can cherry-pick numbers, fudge facts and spin stories all he wants. But the truth remains that, in Christie’s New Jersey, folks are paying more and getting less. On two of the most pressing problems facing the state – jobs and property taxes – Christie continues to fail at making things better.
The most serious gap between Christie’s self-serving rhetoric and the facts is on jobs. New Jersey is lagging the rest of America when it comes to jobs - ranking number 47 out of all the states in terms of government job growth since January 2010. And New Jersey is only 45th in terms of private and public sector job growth over the same period of time. Since February 2011 - for the past 10 months for which numbers are available for both the state and nation – New Jersey has been behind the national rate every single month.
Moreover, Christie can claim he hasn’t raised taxes all he wants, but the truth is the average property tax bill is up under his watch. Over 82% of New Jersey municipalities saw an increase in their property taxes. The fact is that in many communities, not only are residents paying higher property taxes, but they are also receiving fewer and diminished services. But, Christie’s assault on the middle-class doesn’t stop there. Tuition at state colleges and universities has escalated. And tolls, train tickets and bus fares have all risen since Christie took office.
While Christie gives hundreds of millions of dollars in handouts and bailouts to mall developers, casino executives and multi-millionaires, food stamp usage is up 23.2% in New Jersey since 2009 - with 1 in 15 households receiving food stamps. Sadly, 1 in 7 children in the state are now considered poor.
Making bold claims and then failing to back things up is the Christie way. For example, for all his talk about healthcare reform, only a mere 15 out of 397,809 total workers in state & local governments and school offices enrolled in Christie’s new high-deductible health plan. Christie promised $10 million in savings last year from changes to health benefits. But the actual savings was a piddling $60,000. Again, the reality didn’t match Christie’s rhetoric.
On the heels of New Jersey losing out on $400 million in education funding in 2010 by the governor refusing to work with the teachers’ union and then bungling the Race to the Top application in the process, the state again missed out on $60 million in federal education funds under Christie’s watch last year. Clearly, his big talk about education is failing to yield meaningful results. School sports and extra-curricular activities are cancelled due to the trickle-down effect of Christie’s cuts, while teachers are laid off and used as punching bags in the public debate. And ultimately its New Jersey’s children who end up being hurt.
No matter how rosy a picture he attempts to paint, New Jersey has become a far less welcoming place since Christie became governor. Middle-class families are paying more and getting less. There are fewer cops and firefighters to keep families safe, while education, infrastructure and womens’ health have all be defunded. And no matter how many times Christie continues to blame everyone else for his shortcomings – from his predecessor to the legislature and from the president on down to local mayors – clearly, his regressive policies and divisive politics are failing New Jersey’s middle-class.
NJBIA: Stay on Course with Lower Taxes and Less Spending in State of the State Address
New Jersey has turned a corner in improving its business climate, and employers hope that Governor Chris Christie will continue to hold the line on taxes and spending in 2012, beginning with the State of the State speech on Tuesday, New Jersey Business & Industry Association President Philip Kirschner said today.
The last two years have seen great improvement in New Jersey’s business climate,” Kirschner said. “Businesses think the state is headed in the right direction. The most important thing now is to make sure we don’t veer off course. That means sticking to a plan of fiscal discipline, holding the line on taxes and cutting burdensome government regulations.”
The new direction has paid off in new jobs and a new attitude, Kirschner noted. Employers are increasingly viewing New Jersey as a good place to do business and are giving the state much higher marks on its attitude towards business, promoting economic development and controlling government spending.
The improvement is also revealing itself in national surveys. The Tax Foundation and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council show New Jersey overtaking New York in their most recent business-climate rankings.
It’s also showing in employment. Private-sector employers have created more than 50,000 jobs since January, 2011.
“Governor Christie has laid the groundwork for rebuilding New Jersey’s economy, but there is still more work to be done,” Kirschner added. “New Jersey taxes are still too high, and more reforms need to be made to New Jersey’s tangle of government regulations. But we’re on the right track now and if we stay the course, we can expect to see more successful businesses and more new jobs in 2012.”
Kirschner noted that businesses were encouraged that both the Governor and the Legislature have so far been able to work together in a bipartisan manner, and they hope that trend will continue as well.
"The fact is, a lot of important issues were addressed in a meaningful way in 2010 and 2011,” Kirschner said. “There is a sense that New Jersey’s government is beginning to work the way it should.”
ANJEC:What’s the State of the State? New Jersey’s Waters Are Trashed, Top to Bottom
Trenton – As the Governor delivers his State of the State today, the state’s environmental community came together to voice their concerns over the state of our state’s waters: nearly every drop is polluted. The major pollutants of concern across the state – phosphorus and nitrogen – stem from overdevelopment of critical watershed lands, making development the number one threat to New Jersey’s waters.
As reported by the Asbury Park Press, Courier News, and other Gannett papers New Jersey’s waters are in dire straits. There is only one place in the state where you can safely swim, drink the water and eat the fish without restrictions. The paper based its Sunday, January 14th news coverage on NJDEP reports prepared for the USEPA.
The group challenged the Legislature and Governor Christie to stand up to developers, stop the rollbacks to our clean water protections and move forward with an agenda that will save New Jersey’s failing waterways – instead of making them worse.
“Developers have given us a legacy of pollution. Instead of letting developers dictate our water quality policy, it’s time for the Legislature and Governor Christie to make decisions that are in the best interest of New Jersey. This means stopping all attacks on our clean water protections and forging an agenda that focuses on protecting, not polluting. The Governor’s consideration of the dirty water bill today further solidifies the need to chart a new course, and make clean water a priority again in the state,” said Megan Fitzpatrick, clean water advocate with Environment New Jersey.
To reverse the fate of New Jersey’s waters the group of environmental leaders pointed to several key priorities: fully implement the Highlands Act, set a pollution limit for Barnegat Bay, ban fracking in the Delaware River Watershed, expand development free buffers, protect the state’s last remaining forests, and commit to upgrading inadequate stormwater infrastructure and sewer systems.
“The state of our state is that it is under siege by developers and has been for years. They have paved, striped, and mangled nearly every corner of New Jersey leaving essentially no waterway unharmed. At the same time, developers abused the political system with contributions resulting in many elected officials beholden to their reckless actions. It’s left our state’s waterways polluted and us with a huge clean up bill; this must not stand. It’s time for developers and those who fail to defend our quality of life to be held accountable,” said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action.
“As the Governor delivers the State of State address the state of our waterways are failing. The Legislature and the Governor are putting our drinking water at risk by siding with developers and polluters over protecting our drinking water. New Jersey has some of the most polluted waters in the nation and instead of cleaning up our waters they are roll back vital protections. This is the power of special interest money threatening our environment and our future. This is wrong and we are going to fight to change this and protect our drinking water for future generation,” continued Jeff Tittel, director of NJ Sierra.
“We have tremendous challenges facing our state to protect and restore our environment, work we must do to guard our quality of life, our communities and our children's future. Most politicians seem to more interested in protecting special interests than the public interest. That is the major political challenge facing New Jersey,” said Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society.
“Our rivers, wetlands and environment are not luxuries or indulgences to be set aside when it is politically or financially expedient. They are the irreplaceable and fundamental basis of our very lives – present and future. In New Jersey we have worked and voted time and time again to protect the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the lands we can safely live on. Governor Christie needs to stand with the people, not the polluters, and veto this bad legislation,” stated Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.
“While we are in the midst of the longest economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, when we are vulnerable with fear and uncertainty about our future, it is absolutely shameful that the builder's lobby is aggressively and successfully exploiting us to undo the rules and regulations that protect our water supply and waterways, rules that are absolutely necessary for a sustainable future in New Jersey,” added Julia Somers, executive director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition.
“The biological science is as clear as the political science and the result is dirty water and dirty politics. Development is trashing our waterways, developers scapegoat the environment, and too many politicians looking for an easy fix, sound bite and campaign cash do the builders' dirty work. Until the politicians become statesmen or the citizens demand it, the state of the state's waters will continue to be just like our politics, too dirty,” added David Pringle, campaign director of the NJ Environmental Federation.
“By passing legislation that benefits a few special interests, the Legislature is turning its back on years of good land use planning and environmental protection. They are allowing development to proceed piecemeal, without regard to where capacity can support it or residents want it,” said Sandy Batty from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions
“Having only one stream in New Jersey that is clean and healthy enough to drink as well as swim and fish in is disgraceful. It is clear that developers are paving the way to dirty water. Governor Christie and the Legislature need to stop making it easier for the special interests to pollute our water. Clean water is essential for drinking and a healthy environment, but also for a strong economy. New Jersey's leading industries including pharmaceutical, agricultural, and tourism, need clean water to survive. Until our elected officials decide to start listening to the people of New Jersey and make clean water a priority, our quality of life, environment, and economy will continue to suffer,” concluded Jennifer Coffey, policy director of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association.