WAYNE – It’s not his mess, Gov. Chris Christie said today as he unveiled his four-point reform package at Packanack Lake Country Club.
Most of the country club folk were loving him; others who stand to lose the most on pension reform, family and friends of police and fire employees, murmured in the back of the room.
“We’re cleaning up the empties laying all over the floor,” Christie said.
Over the next four weeks, Christie said he’ll unveil one reform per week, including sweeping ethics reform, public pension modification, private job creation, and education funding remodeling.
With 107 days left in legislative session before the winter holidays, Christie started the clock on the Democrat-controlled state legislature. “Plenty of time,” he said.
In dealing with soaring taxation and deficit spending – noting that three out of every four tax dollars is going to personnel costs – Christie said, “You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out where to go for the money.”
Sure to get the most pushback, his pension reform initiative goes further than the bill passed earlier this year, which only adjusted pensions for incoming employees.
“If we don’t change the rules of the road, that pension is not going to be there for you.”
He said a $46 billion pension deficit will nearly double when retirees come calling, even if the state fully funds the system from now on.
He blamed past officials who “made promises with their mouth that they couldn’t keep with their wallet.”
Tomorrow he’ll let loose his ethics initiatives in Raritan. He noted dual office holding, multiple public salaries, and legislative financial disclosure.
Two weeks from now, he’ll let Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno take the lead on job creation.
As an example of the need for education reform, he pointed at Newark, spending $24,000 per student – mostly state funded per the Abbott ruling – yet has a 50 percent dropout rate. He pitched a new teacher merit pay system, among other things.
“I’m going to step on the toes that need to be stepped on,” he said.