Governor Chris Christie demonstrated superb oratory skills when delivering his State of the State Address before both houses of the State Legislature on Tuesday, January 17, 2012. As all 120 Legislators, along with former Governors and current State Supreme Court Justices, sat in the packed Assembly chambers, Christie was eloquent in articulating his message and his goals for the coming year.
Christie may be the most polished orator to serve as New Jersey’s Chief Executive in distant memory. He spoke with passion, and his delivery suggested that he was speaking without a prepared text, when actually the State of the State message was well prepared in advance. The high points of his message were well received by Republicans and harshly criticized by Democrats.
Perhaps the most controversial of his talking points was his proposal for a 10 percent “across the board” state income tax cut. Republicans applauded the proposal, while Democrats complained that there was no way to pay for such a cut. In addition, Democrats complained that it would not be an equitable cut, saving working class New Jerseyans about eighty dollars per year, while saving wealthier citizens as much as seven thousand dollars per year. In addition, Democrats complained that such a cut would eliminate additional programs and cause property taxes to rise.
Certainly, Christie’s outstanding elocution made his proposals sound convincing. However, it also has set Democrats up for failure. The Legislative leadership in both houses will be seen as opposed to “tax relief” when they try to maintain funding for schools and police and fire safety in urban and suburban districts.
Currently, our inner cities are in turmoil as a result of a lack of police protection. Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Camden and Elizabeth have intolerable rates of violent crime, with their murder rates threatening to reach all time highs. In addition, he has misrepresented facts and figures. The Governor has bragged that unemployment rates are going down when, in fact, New Jersey continues to have the highest unemployment rate among all fifty states.
Yes, our Governor was eloquent in delivering his address, reaffirming that he is a brilliant strategist and one of the most gifted speakers of his time. Unfortunately, his proposals will drive working class and poor families even further into the fiscal abyss from which there may be no escape.
Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, a Disability Policy Specialist, holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law School.