One of the frontrunners on the Republican side of there race to succeed New Jersey governor Chris Christie revealed his economic plan Tuesday, calling for cuts to public benefits, changes to tax code. State Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli’s plan comes after his primary rival, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, took a tentative step toward a more detailed platform by coming out against Democrats’ plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
While Ciattarelli’s position on that bill is mostly in line with Guadagno’s, he took a more global line of attack against the Democratic majorities in the Assembly and State Senate. Ciattarelli is hanging his hopes of connecting with disaffected Republican voters by sticking to a message of economic change in a state whose growth has lagged.
The Central Jersey moderate blamed the opposition across the aisle for the state’s economic woes in a statement, alluding to the public pension crisis that has led to a record number of credit downgrades during Christie’s tenure.
“They refuse to overhaul the broken and unfair school funding formula that cheats school children and drives up property taxes,” said of the Democrats. “They also aren’t willing to tackle comprehensive pension and benefit reforms. The bottom line is this: There will be no complete economic recovery or significant growth in New Jersey until we permanently fix the real problems that punish New Jerseyans and, in turn, stifle our state economy.”
Funneling of money out of overfunded school districts and into underfunded districts as well as cuts to what he described as overly generous benefits for public employees would also be on the table.
“We must reform school funding, which “robs Peter to pay Paul,” causing many New Jersey homeowners to pay thousands more than they should in property taxes. We must reform public workers benefits, which unfairly provide post-retirement healthcare coverages that are obscenely generous. We must reform our state tax code, which is page after page after page of disincentive.”
The competition between Guadagno and Ciattarelli to run in a general election that many have already called for Democratic frontrunner Phil Murphy will likely come down to who can build a better fundraising apparatus—an area where Guadagno, with her PAC “Building a Better New Jersey Together” and established ties to Republican donors across the state from her long tenure on the rubber chicken circuit for Christie, could have the advantage.
Guadagno and Ciattarelli, neither of whom endorsed president-elect Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, will also face pro-Trump right-of-center conservatives Commissioner Steve Rogers of Nutley and Ocean County entrepreneur Joe Rull in the primary.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.