TRENTON – The specter of a reviled former president revisited the Statehouse today in the budget speech delivered by Gov. Jon Corzine, who oratorically pushed the Bush button at least once when he said Democrats saved SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) health care benefits for 10,000 New Jersey children.
The remark received applause among the chamber’s Democratic members.
But the budget address this afternoon before a joint session of the legislature unleashed a Republican army of critics, one of the most vocal of whom was state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Middletown), rumored to be a short list candidate for lieutenant governor with GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Chris Christie.
“I think it’s delusional,” Kyrillos said of Corzine’s speech, who re-emphasized Christie’s essential argument that the state budget crisis and the national economic crisis, which Democrats say was intensified by former President George W. Bush’s bumbling two-term tenure, are two issues.
Democrats’ efforts to scapegoat Bush cannot cloak their own ham-handed efforts in the majority to rein in state spending over the past nine years at the state level, Kyrillos said.
“We’re living in double trouble now because we made the wrong choices before,” said Kyrillos. “The governor’s speech borders on sophistry. It doesn’t change the basic facts of jobs not growing and expanding. People are not recognizing New Jersey as a state they want to grow up and live in anymore. We’ve loaded ourselves up with housing quotas and social policies when we should have been focused on job creation.”
Democratic State Party Chairman Joe Cryan knows the Democrats must go beyond Bush speak to turn back an aggressive GOP challenge this year, but he says it’s important to understand that Republican policies over the course of the last eight years played havoc on a national scale.
“If the Republicans in Trenton think their ineptitude in the White House is an excuse for them to get in the Statehouse, they’re sadly mistaken,” said Cryan.