New Jersey is in for some bipartisan pain, former state governors said today. Gov.-elect Chris Christie ran on a pledge to lower taxes and veto spending increases, but it will be difficult – if not impossible – for him to keep those promises, the governors said in front of about 100 mayors and other municipal officials at a session during the annual League of Municipalities convention in Atlantic City. “It’s going to be joining hands and jumping over the cliff together,” former Gov. Jim Florio said. If Christie needs to raise taxes – whether he calls them taxes or not – he will have to make voters believe it is absolutely necessary, the governors said.
“You have to convince the people of New Jersey that this is what we have to do,” former Gov. Donald DiFrancesco said.
It’s not surprising Christie said the budget looked worse than he thought after he met for the first time after the elections earlier this week with Treasury officials, DiFrancesco said.
“Everybody says how bad it is right after the election when they win,” he said.
The session was in part a look toward the Christie administration that takes the helm Jan. 19, but mostly a gripefest about the biggest issues local officials face such as affordable housing responsibilities.
The governors – Republicans DiFrancesco and John Bennett, and Democrats Brendan Byrne and Florio – also deconstructed Gov. Jon Corzine’s Nov. 3 loss.
Byrne said a Democratic candidate could have won the governor’s race this year – just not Corzine.
“It was not the climate to re-elect anybody,” he said. “If he had withdrawn and we had the kind of democrat who didn’t have that kind of baggage, it would have been a race the Democrats could have won.”
With his poll numbers in the doldrums, Corzine reportedly considered withdrawing from the race over the summer, and the popular state senate President Dick Codey has said the White House spoke with him about potentially replacing the incumbent.
Corzine’s heart was in the right place, and he was a good governor, but it was hard to pitch the small advances he made to voters, Byrne said.
“Corzine did not connect with people, and it was not for lack of trying,” he said. “You can’t go around campaigning on the fact you get the death penalty abolished, you can’t do it. You can’t do it on things that were incremental.”
Tolls, which exploded as an issue during the last few days of the campaign, were a big reason Corzine lost by so many votes in Monmouth County, Bennett said. Star Ledger.
How interesting, former Gov Brendan Byrne said the first thing he’ll do as Gov., is widen US Route 9 south from Lakewood to Toms River, to date it hasn’t happened.
Unions Legislation may be the first item to cut taxes, budgets, etc for the State & Municipalities as well.
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