The Spectacle Blog

Christie and Results

By on 6.22.10 | 7:15PM

With yet another video of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie displaying some impressive rhetoric starting to make the rounds, I thought it was time for an update on his actual accomplishments. There's no point in wasting time talking about him as a candidate for higher office if his achievements don't match his reformist image. 

Today Christie reached an agreement with the legislature on his budget, which closes a $10.7 billion revenue gap -- the second-highest in the country, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a New Jersey record -- without raising taxes. The plan includes cutting $820 million in public school funding, trimming $445 million in local-government transfers, and skipping the scheduled $3 billion state pension contribution, which must be made up in the future. Christie's decision to postpone pension reform to a future year seems justifiable given the urgency of plugging a deficit about one-third the size of the budget. 

Democrats are playing along with Christie's budget because their alternative, which was to impose a "Millionaire Tax," failed when they couldn't find enough Republican votes to override Christie's veto. 

Meanwhile, yesterday Christie's signature issue, constitutionally capping property tax growth at 2.5 percent, got a big boost when the popular Democratic mayor of Newark, Cory Booker, endorsed the policy.  

Lastly, it looks like Christie's administration is getting closer to enacting a meaningful school choice program, as the bill's Democratic sponsor announced today that he was making small compromises that he hoped would make it legislatively viable. 

Taking these developments in consideration with what Christie's already done -- most notably, taking the unheard-of step of replacing a Supreme Court Justice, in this case a very problematic one -- it seems as though so far he's delivering on his promises.

An aside: while reading about the latest on Christie's veto of the Millionaire Tax, I came across this Ryan McNeely post on Matt Yglesias's blog. McNeely uses some deceptive editing of a Reuters article to make Christie look bad.

Here's McNeely's excerpt, sic'd:

Democrats want to re-impose a one-year tax on millionaires that has been vetoed by Republican Governor Chris Christie. The 10.75 percent tax on income above $1 million would hit 16,000 people, some of them likely to work as financial professionals just across the Hudson River in New York.

According to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services, a retired couple living on a fixed income of $40,000 would see an increase of $1,320 in taxes under the governor's plan while a family making $1.2 million would receive a tax cut of $11,598.

The reader would think that this is uninterrupted text from the Reuters article. In fact it's not: the Reuters report, in context, says something significantly different: 

Democrats want to re-impose a one-year tax on millionaires that has been vetoed by Republican Governor Chris Christie. The 10.75 percent tax on income above $1 million would hit 16,000 people, some of them likely to work as financial professionals just across the Hudson River in New York.

Both houses of the legislature, which are controlled by Democrats, previously approved the tax in May but it was immediately vetoed by Christie, who has pledged not to raise taxes.

The tax would raise $637 million that the state would use to fund rebate checks of up to $1,295 for some 600,000 senior citizens who would otherwise face steep increases in their property taxes during fiscal 2011.

According to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services, a retired couple living on a fixed income of $40,000 would see an increase of $1,320 in taxes under the governor's plan while a family making $1.2 million would receive a tax cut of $11,598.

McNeely's excerpt would lead you to think that Christie was raising taxes on retirees to give bankers a tax cut. The article, however, makes clear that Christie's vetoing of the tax cut means that the state will have to cut property tax rebates to make budget. That's some questionable excerpting. But how else to reach the hysterical conclusion McNeely wants to make: 

But at the very least this exposes what the modern conservative movement is really about -- protecting the wealthiest .2% of New Jerseyans at the expense of the most vulnerable. 

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