Christie stumps on reforms in Bergen’s election battlefield

PARAMUS – Touting his tax relief reforms, Gov. Chris Christie held a press conference in Bergen County this afternoon, noticeably elevating the profile of a major Republican contender for state Senate next month.

“The building blocks of real, long-term property tax reform are in place,” Christie said, listing his big three bills: a 2 percent tax levy cap; a 2 percent arbitration cap; and landmark pension and benefits reform. “The only way for property taxes to be abated is to not spend as much.”

In a convenient collaboration, Christie ran down his record on tax reduction standing alongside the Senate candidate from one of the most competitive horse races statewide, Paramus-based District 38.

Christie was joined by Republican Freeholder Chairman John Driscoll, challenger of state Sen. Robert Gordon, (D-38), of Fair Lawn, in November.

Driscoll credited Bergen County Executive Kathe Donovan for the county’s zero-increase budget, but took his own credit for leading the freeholder board to reduce spending by nearly $750,000.

“That’s tangible savings and real reform,” Driscoll said before introducing Christie, “my friend.”

The governor listed the newest tallies for his “toolkit” legislation: a total of $267 million in reform savings statewide this year; in Paramus, $933,364 this year; in Bergen County municipalities, over $26.6 million this year just from pension contribution reforms. Christie said that’s equivalent to a 20 percent increase in municipal aid.

He’s given officials the “tools they’ve been asking for for decades,” Christie said, and he implored the governments across the state to “follow the example that Kathe Donovan and John Driscoll did here in the county.”

While calling out Democratic lawmakers for putting “politics ahead of real reform,” Christie also made sure to get in a shot on Driscoll’s opponent from the podium today.

Unprovoked, Christie called out Gordon, who voted against the pension and benefits reform bill struck between the governor and the legislative leaders.

“No one forced Bob Gordon to vote against pension and benefits reform,” Christie said of the Bergen Democrat who he labeled a teachers’ union lackey.

He called on the Legislature to pass sick leave and civil service “toolkit” reforms, too, as well as a long forthcoming shared services bill. “This thing must be being, like, carved on the tablets somewhere,” Christie joked.

Christie said he’ll be back to campaign and raise funds for Driscoll, but he’s still tempering the expectations for a GOP majority in the fall.

“If we were to take back the majority this fall that would represent a tsunami,” Christie said, in a redistricted state “designed to preserve significant Democratic majorities.”