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Christie Defends Decision To Axe Education Commish

NJ Governor Chris Christie (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

NJ Governor Chris Christie (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

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BUDD LAKE, N.J. (1010 WINS/WCBS 880/AP) – Don’t mess with me.

That was the message from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday when he made his first public remarks regarding the firing of Education Commissioner Bret Schundler over a mistake that ultimately cost the state $400 million in education funding.

“Don’t lie to the governor,” Christie said. “That’s the message.”

Education Commissioner Bret Schundler admitted making the mistake after Christie on Friday fired him for misleading him about what happened.

“It does not make me feel good to have to say that someone misled me,” Christie said. “Especially someone I trusted enough to put in charge of the Department of Education.”

He said his decision to fire Schundler was based solely on business, and that he gave him the ax not because he made the mistake, but because he lied about it.

“He said I updated the panel at the hearing, that we complied with the requirements of the question,” Christie said. “Now you saw the video. Is that what happened?”

He said the state’s schools could’ve used the $400 million – but that ship has sailed.

“We know how the mistake was made, we know when the mistake was made, and the person who was directly responsible for making the mistake has now come forward and taken responsibility for the actual mistake,” the governor said. “What’s now time to do is move on.”

Meanwhile, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Majority Leader Barbara Buono sent a letter to Christie on Tuesday urging the Republican to take back his words regarding the state’s failed Race to the Top education grant application.

Before the videotape was released, Christie belittled federal bureaucrats for not allowing the state to correct the mistake.

Sweeney and Buono say Christie’s attack on federal education officials was “completely uncalled for.”

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)