(VIDEO in extended article) Gov.-elect Chris Christie sent a strong message to an audience of municipal politicians and workers gathered here today: Stop thinking about yourselves, or you’ll will be voted out. After embracing outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine at the head of a long banquet table, Christie delivered a forceful speech in which he said he would use “every tool at my disposal to force change.” “The people of the state of New Jersey will no longer stand for us asking, ‘What’s in it for me,'” he said at the luncheon at the annual League of Municipalities convention. “I believe the message from this last election, the message to me and to (Lt. Gov-elect) Kim Guadagno, is we have to start asking what’s in it for us. And what is in it for us is a period of continued pain, continued difficulty and continued challenge.”
The state has become a “patchwork of ‘what’s in it for me'” over the years, Christie said. “That attitude is no longer acceptable to the people of this state,” he said in a warning tone.
Though he never said the words “shared services” or “consolidation,” that’s the message the municipal leaders in the room said they heard.
“We’re talking about possible layoffs and consolidations that we’d prefer not to do,” said Ellen Dickson, president of Summit Common Council. “It’s going to be very painful but we have to do it or else the state will be unlivable.”
Corzine, who spoke last, said his administration made strides — cutting spending, holding down property tax increases with a levy cap and new school funding formula and enacting reforms to public workers’ compensation. But he said the challenges in the state are still “enormous,” and will take a lot to solve.
“Bold and unpopular actions are the only way — the only way — to deal with these issues,” he said.
He got choked up when he described his four years as governor the “honor of my life.”
Christie and Corzine’s joint speaking appearance was the first since Christie won the election on Nov. 3. Last week, the incoming and outgoing governors were seen talking together at a Mass for police officers in Newark. Star Ledger.