Governor Chris Christie will deliver his 2017 Budget Address from the Assembly Chambers in the State House. The event is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. and can be viewed via NJTV here:
I expect that the Governor will be warmly received by the legislators and guests with a standing ovation upon his arrival into the chambers. Everyone in the room has fantasied about being President of the United States. Christie got into to the arena.
Christie’s address will provide a insight into how the next 23 months of his governorship will play out. Pension and benefit reform for teachers, police and government workers have dominated the economic of his administration. Christie will call for the legislature to adopt the reforms suggested by his bi-partisan commission that has been working on the issue for the last two years. The Democratic leadership of Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto must decide whether to deal with Christie on the issue or let the voters decide in November whether or not to make pensions a constitutional right for government workers and a constitutional burden for the rest of New Jersey residents.
If Sweeney and Prieto go the constitutional amendment route, they will be handing Christie the issue he needs to win back New Jersey residents who now have less affection for him than they had for Governor Jon Corzine. The election this November in New Jersey will be about the referendum to constitutionally guarantee government worker pensions as much as it is about the presidency. I’m hoping for a referendum. Let’s either break the back of the NJEA or shut up about our high taxes by voting to impose them on ourselves forever. If the referendum passes, eventually a wall will have to be built around New Jersey to keep people in. The NJEA will pay for it.
Whatever compromise is agreed to regarding the Transportation Trust Fund and the gas tax, it will not include reducing the cost per mile of New Jersey roads from $2 million per mile. Paying union workers triple time to build highways nights and weekends is a fact of life. Even New Jersey Republicans seems to believe that road workers who work waitress hours are entitled to triple pay and platinum benefits. No one believes that those road worker jobs, even on nights and weekends, would go unfilled at a normal wage, but that doesn’t matter because our elected leaders don’t really have the power. Expect to pay more for gas this summer in exchange for a reduction in the estate and inheritance taxes.