In Howell, Christie touts reform agenda

HOWELL – Gov. Chris Christie is launching is middle-class reform agenda in Howell this afternoon, telling hundreds of residents at his 90th town hall meeting that the state is going to “stop saying yes to every good, bad or mediocre idea” that people in Trenton come up with for spending taxpayer money.

“We don’t say no to anything,” said Christie, referring to what he said was the state of affairs prior to him taking office, adding, “We said yes to everything.”

The governor’s platform remains largely unchanged from the message Christie has been driving home over the course of the summer, namely tax relief for New Jersey families and ending sick leave payouts for government workers.

The governor told residents the state needs to end the practice of allowing state workers to collect sick leave money, saying there’s more than $880 million worth of unused sick time the state is on the hook for.

“There is no reason this fall that they shouldn’t pass that bill and let me sign it,” Christie said. “We need to get this zero-means-zero plan done.”

Additionally, the governor promised to take on user fees he says municipalities are using to get around the state’s 2 percent property tax cap. Dropping Senate President Steve Sweeney’s name, the governor told residents the plan has bipartisan support, but questioned why some Democrats who voted for the tax cap are reluctant to support a proposal to curb user fees.

Sweeney has already sponsored legislation that would prohibit user fees from being excluded from the tax cap.

Lastly, Christie promised to push for ethics reform in the state, citing the recent guilty plea of the superintendent of Public Works for North Bergen Township who was charged with routinely using municipal employees for household chores and personal projects at his home.

Christie drew applause from the crowd when he said he plans to push for a ban on holding more than one public job and a proposal that would require elected officials to forfeit campaign funds if they are convicted of crimes.

Christie said residents have been waiting “736 days for ethics reforms,” drawing a laugh from the crowd when he explained how quickly it takes things to get done outside of the bubble in Trenton.

The governor’s priorities are a familiar message, but come with a new slogan: The “Christie Middle-Class Reform Agenda.”

The Howell town hall is the first such event since the governor rolled out the new slogan and comes as the Legislature prepares to return to the Statehouse in the coming weeks.

In Howell, Christie touts reform agenda