VINELAND – Gov. Chris Christie came down to the Armory here today touting his record of the past two years, and calling on the public to support his proposed 10-percent, across-the-board income tax cut.
“I need your help,” he told an overflowing crowd.
He said Democrats would fight it, calling for the money to be spent on programs, just like they had proposed with their own budget last year.
The governor pointed out that he line-item vetoed $1 billion worth of expenditures from this fiscal year’s budget.
He continued his calls to cut the deficit and touted his landmark reforms of the state’s pension and health insurance systems, which largely call for higher contributions from public employees.
Soon thereafter, he took questions, most of them related to local issues.
A group of parents and their children lined the back section of the hall to protest the planned closure in June of three Catholic Schools in South Jersey.
Christie said he supports tax benefits and incentives for parents who send their children to parochial schools, and vouched for the Opportunity Scholarship Act, which has yet to be passed by the Legislature. The Republicans support it, but the Democrats are divided.
He said the simple reason it hasn’t passed is because of opposition from the New Jersey Education Association teachers union.
Christie pointed out that he sends his own children to Catholic school because it helps reinforce religious values.
Christie called for support of his proposed drug court program he outlined in his State of the State address last week.
He said there are 7,000 nonviolent people in prison for drug offenses, with the state spending some $49,000 for what he called “warehousing.”
“We wonder why a huge percentage wind up back in jail,” he said. “The cycle repeats itself.”
“We need to get smart about this,” he said, calling drug addiction “a disease.”
He acknowledged that the planned closure of the Vineland Developmental Disabilities Center was controversial, and said that it was postponed after Sen. Jeff Van Drew, (D-1), Dennis Township, and others called for a more thorough evaluation of determining which centers should close.
But Christie said while he understands that some developmental disabilities institutions need to remain open, he said that science supports the rationale for moving many residents back home or into community settings.