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Christie Mentions Bridgegate, Then Reiterates Old Proposals in State of the State

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

WNYC

Gov. Christie reiterated at the top of his high-profile State of the State speech Tuesday that "mistakes" were made in the bridgegate scandal, but he then quickly moved on to offer a range of proposals, most of which he has pushed in the past.

"Mistakes were clearly made," he said of his top aides' involvement in a political retribution scandal that caused traffic on the George Washington Bridge. "I know our citizens deserve better."

But, he said, the administration and Legislature "will not allow the work that needs to be done to improve the peoples’ lives in New Jersey to be delayed.” The only Democrat in the Legislature to stand and applaud after that line was Brian Stack of Union City, who endorsed Christie's re-election campaign.

That work, as he described it, looks familiar to what Christie has advocated for over his last four years in office. Christie brought up proposals that he has previously advocated for: Bail reform to keep violent offenders in jail while awaiting trial; ending cash payouts for unused sick pay for public workers; sending non-violent drug offenders to treatment instead of prison; consolidating local government to save property taxes; and increasing funding to the pension system. 

He did not propose an income tax cut, as he had in 2012 and 2013.

Christie's most significant new proposal was for a longer school day and school year. That could set him on a collision course with the New Jersey Education Association teachers' union, the strongest and most well-heeled lobby in the state. Christie has enjoyed public support for his previous fights with the NJEA, which helped him build a national image for being tough and blunt. 

Christie spent a good deal of time talking about the need for education reform in urban areas, as he has in the past. After introducing the school superintendents of Camden and Newark -- two districts under state, and thereby Christie control --  he noted that only three graduates from Camden last year left school "college ready."

"That is obscene and unacceptable and a breaching of the faith of those families and every level of government responsible for their education," he said.

Last year's State of the State speech was much different. A confident Christie riding sky-high approval ratings in the wake of Superstorm Sandy spent much of his speech talking about the recovery efforts. This year, he brought up Sandy at the end, refuting the recent accusation that not much relief aid was going to low-income families.

"The bottom line is this: We are a long way to the finish line, but we are also a long way from where we were a year ago," he said.

Democrats were unimpressed with the speech. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said they were "Just different sound bites that don't mean much."

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Comments [4]

billy pilgrim

correction to typo comment below: The WSJ article was dated Dec 12 and said that the call was made "this week" - i.e., the week of Dec 12, not Dec 2.

Jan. 15 2014 12:12 PM
Vonnie from Maine

I think Gov. Christie has a great idea. I have been leaning in that direction for a while now. It would make up for some of the time wasted in a school year. I'll bet the teachers will balk at this idea. However, the future of our children depends on a good education. We will just have to pay the teachers more.

Jan. 15 2014 09:28 AM
Bill King from Elizabeth, NJ

Governor Christie wants to make the school day and the academic year longer. Think maybe he should check with the teachers union

Jan. 15 2014 08:55 AM

Yes, Christie really supports improved education. For example, to avoid coming to some agreement with the NJ teachers' union, he gave up $300 million in Federal education funds, and then blamed and fired Brett Schundler, his Education Commissioner (see a pattern here?). Instead of using Sandy money to give many kids a normal home after the storm, he used millions of it to display himself and his family on promotions for the Jersey Shore. And finally, on the first day of school in Fort Lee, he arranged for kids to spend hours on the school buses instead of being in class. But that was OK, because they were the "kids of Buono voters."

I'd hate to think what he would do if he didn't support better education.

Jan. 14 2014 06:10 PM

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