New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: Good morning everybody and thank you for having me today Mr. President. Thank you for the invitation to be here today and I am always, will always be proud, no matter what else I accomplish, in my career to say that I was a proud member of the Bush Administration for seven years as the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and now taking a demotion to be Governor of New Jersey. If you don’t think it’s a demotion, then you go ahead and lose grand jury subpoena power. Any time you do, it is a demotion. For some of you that comment’s more significant than for others. But I am happy to be here this morning and talk to you a little bit about our experience in New Jersey, and I agree with the President that the most important thing that you can do as a governor for your economy is to try to institute pro-growth policies that grow the pie and that are optimistic.
However, optimism was a thing that was a little difficult to find in January of 2010 in the state of New Jersey and here’s why. In the eight years before I became Governor our state raised taxes and fees at the state level 115 times. In the decade before I became Governor, New Jersey had a zero private-sector job growth decade, a decade where we had net zero job growth in the private sector. Yet in that decade before I became Governor we became the state in America that had the most government workers per square mile in their state. That is an enormous achievement, and one that took incredible work by eight years of three Democratic governors and a fully Democratic Legislature.
And so when I came into office in those last few weeks of January of 2010, you would think to yourself that given that plate coming in, that the news couldn’t get worse, and I was assured by my predecessor Governor Corzine that he was leaving me a budget that was, as he said to me in our first meeting post-election, on a glide path for the rest of the fiscal year. I guess he and I have a different definition of the term glide path because in my second week as Governor my Chief of Staff and my Treasurer came into my office and said that if we did not cut $2.2 billion in spending in the next five weeks, that New Jersey would not meet payroll for the second pay period in March. Now imagine that: 60% of the fiscal year already gone, 60% of the money out the door, in a $29 billion budget, and we had to find $2.2 billion not in cuts to projected growth, in money that we essentially had to sequester, that had already been appropriated, that was being counted on being spent across the state in order to meet payroll. Not in order to meet some lofty goal like cutting taxes—in order to meet our payroll in what is the second-wealthiest state per capita in America. If you need any greater example of what happens to an economy when a state government overtaxes, overspends, overborrows, and overregulates, come to the New Jersey of January of 2010. That even with the second-wealthiest populace in America per capita, we were going to be unable to meet payroll for the second pay period in March.
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