Reporting Christine Sloan
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS New York) – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie outlined his accomplishments in his first state of the state address on Tuesday.
The governor laid out an agenda of education and pension reform, but the Republican governor said there’s a lot more to do.
Christie said he’s proud of what he accomplished in his first year in office, but that he wants more reforms, including cuts in unpopular programs, reports CBS 2′s Christine Sloan.
“We cannot continue to spend money we don’t have,” he said.
He also wants state workers to contribute more to their pensions, and teacher layoffs based on merit instead of tenure, “to give schools more power to remove underperforming teachers.”
Democrats say Christie has made cuts at the expense of the poor, by scaling back on an earned income tax credit for those who make less than $15,000 a year.
“Most of the people in that tax bracket category are people working at minimum wage jobs,” New Jersey State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said. “Generally, it’s women raising children.”
Lisa Daniel, who works for an after-school program, said she lives paycheck-to-paycheck supporting her daughter, and she blames it on the governor.
“I actually did have to take a pay cut this year because of the funding cutting that he did in the schools,” Daniel said.
Bea Henderson, who owns a business in affluent Madison and pays high property taxes, applauds Christie.
“I tend to like the man,” she said. “I have a lot of faith in him.”
A poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Public Mind finds Christie’s approval rating is the highest it’s ever been – 53 percent – but public state employees don’t have the same opinion of him.
“If you look at public employee households, you see that two-thirds of them say the state is on the wrong track,” Public Mind’s Peter Woolley said.
Analysts say it is the unions that help governors get reelected and give presidential candidates the edge in New Jersey – something Governor Christie certainly knows.
Christie took office a year ago after winning an upset victory over incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine.
He says he changed the dialogue in Trenton, and now it’s time to make the most of that opportunity.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)