BY JOSHUA HENNE
With Governor Chris Christie set to give his State of the State remarks today, it’s clear he is in a State of Denial….and because of that New Jersey’s middle-class families are in a State of Depression.
Christie can cherry-pick numbers, fudge facts and spin stories all he wants. But the truth remains that, in Christie’s New Jersey, folks are paying more and getting less. On two of the most pressing problems facing the state – jobs and property taxes – Christie continues to fail at making things better.
The most serious gap between Christie’s self-serving rhetoric and the facts is on jobs. New Jersey is lagging the rest of America when it comes to jobs - ranking number 47 out of all the states in terms of government job growth since January 2010. And New Jersey is only 45th in terms of private and public sector job growth over the same period of time. Since February 2011 - for the past 10 months for which numbers are available for both the state and nation – New Jersey has been behind the national rate every single month.
Moreover, Christie can claim he hasn’t raised taxes all he wants, but the truth is the average property tax bill is up under his watch. Over 82 percent of New Jersey municipalities saw an increase in their property taxes. The fact is that in many communities, not only are residents paying higher property taxes, but they are also receiving fewer and diminished services. But, Christie’s assault on the middle-class doesn’t stop there. Tuition at state colleges and universities has escalated. And tolls, train tickets and bus fares have all risen since Christie took office.
While Christie gives hundreds of millions of dollars in handouts and bailouts to mall developers, casino executives and multi-millionaires, food stamp usage is up 23.2 percent in New Jersey since 2009 - with 1 in 15 households receiving food stamps. Sadly, 1 in 7 children in the state are now considered poor.
Making bold claims and then failing to back things up is the Christie way. For example, for all his talk about healthcare reform, only a mere 15 out of 397,809 total workers in state and local governments and school offices enrolled in Christie’s new high-deductible health plan. Christie promised $10 million in savings last year from changes to health benefits. But the actual savings was a piddling $60,000. Again, the reality didn’t match Christie’s rhetoric.