In his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the New Jersey Legislature, Governor Chris Christie began his speech by acknowledging the death of Republican Assemblyman Alec DeCroce. DeCroce collapsed and died at the State House over a week ago after the lame-duck legislative session had ended. Instead of delivering the State of the State address scheduled the next day, Christie remembered DeCroce, whom he had known for 20 years, in a eulogy at the State House.
After a moment of silence to honor DeCroce’s life and legacy. Christie proudly proclaimed that the “New Jersey Comeback has begun.” During the 40-minute speech, Christie spoke repeatedly about working “together,” even thanking Democratic leaders Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. Christie cited as his list of accomplishments: balancing the budget, stemming the growth of property taxes with a 2 percent cap and creating private sector jobs. He hammered away at government spending as the root cause of rising property taxes by hailing the success of pension and health benefits reform.
Christie said that New Jersey achieved results and showed Washington and the rest of the nation “that divided government can work; that Democrats and Republicans working together is possible.”
Going forward, he promised to “hold the line on spending” and submit a “truly balanced” budget. Furthermore, he promised to “reduce income tax rates for each and every New Jerseyan, in every tax bracket, by 10 percent across the board.”
Citing fairness and job creation. Christie stated that “every New Jersey taxpayer will benefit, every New Jerseyan’s rates will go down, every New Jerseyan will see relief.”
Christie then moved onto the topic of education reform. Christie said that while the majority of New Jersey school children continue to perform above most other states on national assessment tests, too many in the education system use the success of others as an excuse to block change. Among his proposals: reform tenure, end the system of “last in, first out” when laying off teachers, and pass the Opportunity Scholarship Act.
Lastly, he spoke of improving the quality of life in inner cities by keeping violent criminals off the streets and helping non-violent drug offenders through drug treatment rather than putting them in prison.
Returning to the theme of the New Jersey Comeback and working together, he said that “New Jersey is now seen around the country once again, not exclusively as the butt of late night jokes, but as a focus of the evening news and the Sunday talk shows” for “taking on the big things in public policy.”