Christie Determined to Turn Garden State Economy Around
Chris Christie, the Republican Governor of New Jersey, is not known for mincing words when he wants to make a point. A former U.S. Attorney for the district of New Jersey appointed by President George W. Bush, Christie always takes a no-nonsense approach and has little patience for those he feels are not on board with his agenda. His strong personality has been displayed many times in the national media, much to the delight of his supporters. Christie’s primary focus is on turning around the economy of his state and working in the best interest of his middle-class constituents. In a state that is predominately a Democratic stronghold, this can be a challenge. But the governor also prides himself on his willingness to work in a bipartisan manner with his legislature, and to this end has had significant success.
Governor Christie took office in January 2010. During his relatively short tenure, he has managed to overcome a $13 billion deficit, and balance the state budget every year since. He enacted a 2 percent cap on property tax increases, put a ceiling on raises for public employees who seek arbitration, and is pushing a new income-tax credit tied to property taxes. At the end of a four-year gradual phase-in, households earning up to $400,000 would receive an income-tax credit equivalent to 10 percent of their property tax bill. The credits would be refundable and capped at $10,000. The voters of New Jersey obviously like the direction in which Christie is taking the state, since he currently maintains a 71 percent approval rating. Certainly a lot of that is a result of how well he handled Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, but it is still a number virtually unheard of in politics today, particularly when you consider that this is a Republican Governor in a Democratic state!
Even with all the accomplishments to date, New Jersey is still ranked the 46th worst state in which to do business, according to chiefexecutive.net surveys. Last year, New Jersey homeowners paid the nation’s highest average property tax bill of $7,900. As the data in How Money Walks shows, during the timeframe from 1992 through 2010, New Jersey lost nearly $21 billion in net adjusted gross income (net AGI). Half of that money went directly to the state of Florida. Governor Christie is determined to stop the bleeding of outward revenue migration, and attract new residents and employers to his state.
In the governor’s 2013 New Jersey budget address, he proposed $32.9 billion in state spending. The governor quickly pointed out that this amount would meet the needs of the people and is less than the state spent in fiscal year 2008. His budget would continue to reduce the size of the state government, which shed more than 20,000 positions during his tenure. During the same period, 103,000 new private sector jobs were created. The state is on a path to provide more than $2 billion in tax relief for small businesses.
“This is what happens when you have a government that tells people the truth, that makes the hard choices, and actually manages our government,” Christie said.
New Jersey still has a long way to go in order to be on the positive side of AGI growth on the national stage. But unlike other governors in the same fiscal dilemma who follow a tax and spend approach, this governor sees fiscal responsibility and sound tax policies as the only route to that goal. In the words of Mark Twain: “Always do right. It will gratify some and astonish the rest.” This is Governor Christie’s mantra.