Republican lawmakers yesterday gave glowing reviews of Gov. Chris Christie’s State of the State speech and signaled their support for his agenda going forward.
The highlight of the governor’s speech and the proposal that promises to cause the most angst in Trenton over the next five months was an across the board 10 percent income tax cut. While Democrats were wary, accusing the governor of pandering to the rich, most Republicans were fully on board.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean had a simple statement: Stick with what works. Christie is doing things differently than the Democratic governors of the past decade and, he said, it has produced tangible results.
“The agenda put forth by Governor Christie and Republicans in the Senate and Assembly is yielding results,” Kean said, “Today, the Governor rightly called on all of us to double down on a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda by reducing taxes for every New Jerseyan and restoring the earned income tax credit for the working poor.”
Sen. Joe Kyrillos, who is expected to announce a bid for U.S. Senate in the coming days, was equally supporting of the governor’s plan, though he did not specifically mention the income tax cut.
“Through a commitment to living within our means and restoring predictability to our business climate, New Jersey has turned the corner and is creating sustainable, private sector jobs,” Kyrillos said. “What we are doing is working- and it is a credit to Governor Christie’s willingness to make difficult but necessary decisions.”
In the Assembly, members were equally in lock step with the governor’s ambitious plans for education reform and tax cuts.
“There is still much work to be done on a range of issues that should be addressed immediately by the Legislature,” said Assemblyman Dave Rible, who will take over in this session as conference leader, replacing Assemblyman Jon Bramnick who was elected minority leader.
“Improving the educational system by providing choices to children in failing schools, restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit to the level it was at two years ago and a 10 percent income tax cut are just some of the important policy topics that we need to act on. We can create private-sector jobs by reducing taxes, but there is no economic model that suggests more will be added if they are increased.”
Bramnick also jumped on the tax cut, saying in a release taxpayers can count on Christie to deliver.
“The Governor’s proposed tax cut for every New Jersey taxpayer represents the next step (to) make New Jersey more affordable for families and competitive for new jobs. This is relief taxpayers can count on because Governor Christie doesn’t make promises he doesn’t intend to keep.”
Both the tax cut and education reform proposals promise to be contentious issues as the new Legislature settles in. Democrats have already signaled their suspicions over the tax cut and spent the afternoon citing figures showing that because it is not graduated, it will disproportionately affect the wealthy.
Questions over where the money will come from circulated the Statehouse today illustrating the tough road Christie has ahead.
If he is to have a chance at pushing through either of his signature issues, Republicans will need to remain supportive and not break ranks. Democrats have several of their own initiatives on the coming year’s agenda, including same sex marriage and a boost in the minimum wage.
Neither promises to be popular with the GOP, meaning the two sides will likely be at odds for much of the first half of the year.