TRENTON – The two ranking Democrats in the New Jersey state senate—Senate President Sweeney and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg—greeted a crowd of reporters immediately following Governor Chris Christie’s Tuesday State of the State address to discuss their qualms with what the Governor had to say.
“This state has a lot of issues that we were hoping to be addressed, priorities like the Transportation Trust Fund, education, college affordability, public/private partnerships and fulfilling the commitment for the pensions,” Sweeney said. According to the Senate President, the Governor’s remarks failed to address the most important issues plaguing the state and, instead, pushed a divisive rhetoric aimed at driving a wedge between those who support a constitutional amendment funding state pensions and those who do not. Sweeney said that, despite the Governor’s criticism of pensions, the legislature will continue to pursue the constitutional amendment in 2016.
“The governor loves talking about the pension systems,” Sweeney said. “He is not talking about the fact that he is the one who broke the commitment to fund the pensions.”
Weinberg said she believed the remarks lacked substance.
“The governor gave a very long speech today and most of it was about why we shouldn’t be funding the pension system and the other half seemed to be about drug rehabilitation which we all agree on,” Weinberg said. “But he didn’t talk about the state of our state. He didn’t talk about the fact that the Transportation Trust Fund is broken.”
According to Sweeney, the failure to mention the TTF shows that the governor’s speech was out of touch with New Jersey.
“Nothing on the TTF at all, like it doesn’t exist,” Sweeney said. “You’ve got a speech that I really don’t think was geared to New Jersey.”
While Sweeney said he did not feel that the speech was intended as a national speech in light of Christie’s 2016 presidential candidacy, he did say that a comment Christie made about President Obama’s lack of leadership would have been better suited for a presidential campaign.
“That was really a low point of the speech,” Weinberg said. “This inappropriate line about the president of the United States who is tonight going to give his state of the nation speech.”
The two Democrats were also critical of Christie’s touting the economic recovery in the state as a success that was secured under his watch.
“Of course the economy got better in the state of New Jersey,” Sweeney said. “It is only about four years behind everyone else.”