HAMILTON – Gov. Chris Christie made a folksy swing through this suburban bellwether this morning to tell a recurring cast of Christie characters and a crowd dotted with Hamilton regulars that New Jersey is the worst state in America in terms of healthcare deficit.
“We simply can’t afford it any longer,” said the GOP governor. “Since this is the week when we vote on our school budgets, I thought this morning would be a good time to give the Legislature a report card.”
In front of an audience bubbling with laughter and with Mayor John Bencivengo seated onstage behind him, Christie proceeded to issue grades, panning the efforts of the Democratic Legislature.
“The voters in Parsippany paid $125 last year just to cover the sick leave pay – they’re just sticking it to your property taxes and hoping you don’t understand,” said the governor.
“You all elected me in part to get control of property taxes – I can’t do it unless they pass the tool kit,” he added.
Using the metaphor of grades on the eve of school board elections, the governor gave lawmakers some credit for passing five tool kit bills, but slammed them for failing to pass an additional 15.
“Follow-through remains an issue,” said Christie, imitating report card jargon.
He ran through a long list, choosing similiar language to characterize the opposing party’s foot-dragging, to which Democrats fired back in an release.
“The governor’s lack of leadership is appalling and sadly more bad news for New Jerseyans enduring his property tax increases,” said Tom Hester, Jr., spokesman for the Assembly Democrats. “The governor has been a repeated failure, whether it be his hiking property taxes, stalling job creation, denying women health care or attacking education. He should be working with the people’s representatives to solve problems rather than engaging in immature whining. This much is clear about this governor clearly panicking over his inability to lead – he loves giving tax breaks to millionaires while hurting the working class, and the buck surely doesn’t stop with him.”
Former Highlands Mayor Anna Little sat in Christie’s crowd. She was last year’s unsuccessful candidate for Congress in the 6th District. Also present was Scott Sipprelle of Princeton Township, who ran and lost in the 12th Congressional District against U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell Township).
As usual during an election year, the 14th District contains battleground implications. When state Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-14) of Plainsboro wrested a longtime Republican upper house seat away from the GOP last year, she further lopsided Christie’s Senate minority to 16-24, making even more elusive the governor’s designs on legislative control.
This year, as senators run for two-year seats, Republicans have positioned Richard Kanka, a plumber/pipefitter, as Greenstein’s opponent.