Governor Chris Christie gave his final State of the State address January 9, outlining his accomplishments over the last 8 years.
During the almost 90 minute speech, the soon to be emeritus Governor painted his tenure as one that made New Jersey a better place to live. Christie chose to highlight several issues his administration sought to tackle, including property tax relief (2 percent cap), reforming the bail system, rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, investing in higher education, and urban renewal.
But, the remarks, albeit softened by bipartisan successes, also included several rebukes of the Legislature, including the recent refusal to renew the interest arbitration cap — a policy that caps the amount third-party arbitrators can give to police and firefighters when they have contract disputes with towns.
It also included a defense of his actions at it relates to public employee pensions, with Christie suggesting that the contributions his administration made during his tenure were far more substantial than prior administrations, despite the administration’s failure to live up to a pension-funding ramp-up schedule that was established in his own 2010 state law. If that law had been followed, the state would be fully funding its obligation to the pension system in the current fiscal year. Instead, Christie budgeted a payment that is 50 percent of the amount actuaries say the state should be contributing to help restore the system to good health.
Christie urged the Legislature to more farther on the pension issue even as they prepare for single-party rule in Trenton for the first time in eight years.
“The ‘failure to act’ option is running out of time,” Christie said.
Unfortunately the speech gave scant attention to education, outside of Camden City, focusing instead on changes to higher education structure.