Gov. Chris Christie was a featured luncheon speaker in Washington yesterday at the 2014 Fiscal Summit sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. The nonpartisan institute is focused on raising awareness of America’s long-term fiscal challenges and promoting solutions that put the nation on a fiscally economic path.
It wasn’t good timing: Christie’s speech came as New Jersey is wrestling with an $807 million current-year budget deficit and just one day after Moody’s downgraded the state’s credit rating. The reasons: New Jersey’s structurally unbalanced budget, its overreliance on “one-shot” budget gimmicks, and the growing long-term fiscal challenges posed by soaring pension and retiree health benefit costs.
The governor got a laugh when he blamed the shortfall on bad projections by Treasury’s economists. He branded the state’s long-term pension obligations “insanity,” but said the pension bill he and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) pushed through in 2011 was a model of bipartisanship that President Obama should emulate.