January 11, 2011
Re: State of the State Address
Governor Christie delivered his first State of State address today for a joint session of the Assembly and Senate. In his speech, the Governor broke from tradition. Instead of providing a list of initiatives for each department of State government, he highlighted three major challenges that we must confront.
First, Governor Christie stated that “we must stick to the course of fiscal discipline”. Governor Christie highlighted the accomplishments of his FY2011 budget and noted that the FY2012 budget will be balanced and not raise taxes. In the printed version of the speech, Governor Christie also noted “we need to continue to examine the amount and structure of municipal and school aid programs.” In addition, Governor Christie stated that in his budget he will propose the initial installment of a comprehensive tax reform that is considered together, not in a piecemeal.
Second, “we must fix our pension and health benefit systems in order to save them”. Governor Christie stated that “we must modestly raise the retirement age in an era of longer life expectancy; we must curb the effect of COLAs in a time of low or no inflation; we must ensure a modest but acceptable contribution from employees toward their own retirement system; and finally, if we can make real reform a reality, the State must also begin to make its pension contributions.”
Third, “we must reform our schools to make them best in the nation”. Governor Christie stated that “we must empower principals; reform poor-performing public schools or close them; and we must cut out-of-classroom costs and focus our efforts on teachers and children”
In his speech, Governor Christie thanked both Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Oliver for using “..last year of action to help begin to restore the public’s faith in bi-partisan government”. Governor Christie highlighted the accomplishments of last year and noted that “we need to enact the entire tool kit which will help us stem the growth of property taxes”.
Senator Sarlo and Assemblyman Cryan provided the Democratic response to the Governor’s speech. Both Senator Sarlo and Assemblyman Cryan emphasized jobs and property taxes. They indicated their commitment to continue working in a bi-partisan matter.
A full copy of the Governor’s State of the State Address is available at www.nj.gov/governor/news/addresses/2010s/approved/20110111b.html
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.