TRENTON, N.J. (CBNewYork) — Frustrated New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he is not backing down.
In his State of the State address on Tuesday the governor again urged Congress to approve billions in relief aid for Hurricane Sandy recovery, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.
The speech showed the more sensitive side of Christie, who honored the heroes of Sandy during his speech, residents like Marsha Hedgepath and Frank Smith Jr.:
“He led his team through fires and flood waters, through buildings and trailer parks, and he saved over 2,000 lives that night,” Christie said of Smith.
Among those lives saved was a little girl named Ginger.
“So I told Ginger ‘You haven’t lost your home; you’ve just lost a house,’” Christie said.
He called Sandy “an act of God that delivered a natural, human, and financial disaster” but said “Make no mistake. New Jersey’s spirit has never been stronger. Our resolve never more firm. Our unity never more obvious.”
“New Jerseyans are among the toughest, grittiest and most generous people in America,” he added. “Our pride in our state in our moment of loss and challenge is reflected in the eyes of these extraordinary people.”
The governor’s address was all about what his administration has done for the victims of Sandy, and what the federal government needs to do – like pass an aid package, he said.
“We now look forward to what we hope will be quick Congressional action on a full, clean Sandy aid bill – now, next week — and to enactment by the President,” he said. “We have waited 72 days, seven times longer than victims of Hurricane Katrina waited. One thing I hope everyone now clearly understands—New Jersey, both Republicans and Democrats, will never stand silent when our citizens are being short-changed.”
However, Democrats say the governor is hiding behind Sandy, and needs to address the state’s high unemployment, poverty and foreclosure rates.
“He vetoed 30 bills to try and help economy,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney said.
Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald delivered the party’s rebuttal.
Greenwald said New Jersey’s economic problems pre-date the October storm.
“A 9.6 percent unemployment rate that is close to close to two percentage points higher than the national average. A[n] unemployment rate that is more troubling than that trailing the national average, we trail our neighboring states almost one and a half percentage points behind New York and a staggering almost two percentage points behind Pennsylvania,” said Greenwald.
The Democrat also said the state’s economy needs a big jolt.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to the reality that New Jersey’s economy was struggling before Sandy and continues to struggle after the impacts of this storm have passed,” added Greenwald.
But even their criticism doesn’t seem to make a dent in the governor’s approval rating, which is the highest it’s ever been.
“It’ll be like running into Hurricane Christie. The guy has three out of four voters approve of him strongly right now. It’s an uphill challenge to him,” political analyst Pete McDonough said.
In fact, Sweeney has been criticized for saying “Christie got lucky with the storm,” during another interview.
“I felt horrible about the comments. I apologized immediately because I couldn’t believe the words came out of my mouth,” Sweeney said.
The governor said Sandy hurt New Jersey’s economy, costing the state 8,000 jobs, but he also said he is proud that he’s been able to balance budgets without raising taxes. Christie also said unemployment is coming down and that new home sales are up.
“Despite the challenges that Sandy presents for our economy, I will not let New Jersey go back to our old ways of wasteful spending and rising taxes,” Christie said. “We will deal with our problems but we will continue to do so by protecting the hard-earned money of all New Jerseyans first and foremost. We will not turn back.”
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