Critics Slam Christie’s Budget

In a Tuesday afternoon speech to the state legislature, Gov. Chris Christie introduced his $33.8 billion state budget proposal, which calls for a $1.3 billion pension payment beginning July 1. Critics say Christie's speech was a lot of hot air.

In his speech, Christie called upon public officials to search for alternative means to bolster the state’s economy.

"I know we can get this done. We have proven time and again that even when we look like we’re not going to make it work and that politics and partisan interests have won, we flip the script," Christie said in his speech. "We will not push this off," he said. "We will not leave it for another day."

However, some of Christie’s critics are displeased with his address, and believe it speaks to larger problems of his governorship. Assembly Democrats were quick to point out that Christie spoke at length on the public pension and benefit system but failed to address other outstanding issues facing the state.

“What you heard today was no plan to fix the economy, what you heard is — I don’t know what you heard. It was nothing,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

NJ Spotlight concurs with Sweeney, pointing out that Christie, “avoided mentioning some key problems New Jersey faces. He said nothing about how the state is going to sustain transportation spending, and made only a passing reference to Monday’s court ruling requiring an additional $1.6 billion be found in this year’s budget to fund the state’s pension system, and another possibly $3 billion payment in 2016.”

In his speech, Christie stated his pension plan had the support of the New Jersey Education Association, a claim they quickly refuted. Before the speech, the NJEA made clear that no deal had been reached, but the parties continued to work toward a plan.

"I think what’s been described as an agreement is really a roadmap and a path forward," said Edward Richardson, executive director of the NJEA.

Christie’s pension problems may prove to be an issue should he choose to run for president in 2016. The New York Times lays out the problem. They write:

Mr. Christie came into national prominence after taking on public employees over pension and health benefits, clearing the way for other Republican governors to follow suit, and establishing himself as willing to do the hard things and tell the difficult truths. … Mr. Christie promised to finance the pensions if the unions contributed more. But with New Jersey’s economy lagging well behind the nation and its neighbors, he cut the payments that he had promised to make, saying he could not balance the state budget otherwise. That put the pension system even deeper in debt, and incurred a record eight credit downgrades from Wall Street ratings agencies.

Christie will speak at a town hall today in Moorestown at 3 p.m., and will hold his monthly "Ask the Governor" radio program on New Jersey 101.5 tonight at 7 p.m.

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