New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone, (D-Long Branch), formally announced the nomination of State Senator Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) for the office of Governor in Asbury Park Saturday.
“Our state has a lot of problems and challenges and I don’t think our current Governor is up to those challenges. All we hear about is what he has done after the storm. We have a lot of people working hard to rebuild and recover after Sandy. Not one person can do it all alone and all by themselves and take all the credit. We are all in it together,” said Pallone to a crowd of more than 200 delegates from all over Monmouth County who gathered inside the West Side Community Center for their annual mini-convention.
Upon accepting the nomination for Governor, Buono fired back at her critics asking, “How could I not run? I’m running for the people who are tired of high income taxes while all they hear about is a ‘Jersey comeback’.
"I am running for the unemployed who are tired of hearing about that ‘Jersey comeback’. We have the highest unemployment rate in the last three decades in the state. That’s more than 2 percentage points higher than the national average.”
Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), who is the state's Democratic Chair, backed Buono for the nomination telling the crowd, “She’s more concerned about you than YouTube.”
“There are 600,000 residents living in Monmouth County and more than half are registered Democrats.” stated Wisniewski. Then he turned to the crowd of delegates in attendance and asked, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?”, to which a resounding ”no” response echoed throughout the auditorium. “And what has Chris Christie done about it?” asked Wisnewski. “Nothing.”, chanted the delegates in unison. “And your property taxes have gone up by 20% since he’s been in office.” answered Wisinewski.
Christie touted a “Jersey Comeback” during his state of the state address last year, but hasn’t used the term since.
Nonetheless, the Republican governor is still riding a wave of popularity with the highest job approval rating he has ever had in his home state at 74 percent. That’s the highest of any New Jersey Governor in the last 17 years Quinnipiac has been polling the state, and the highest of any Governor in the seven states Quinnipiac actually polls.
Seventy-one percent say Governor Christie should be re-elected, according to the research poll, while Christie performs strongly among those surveyed who would like to see him in the White House come 2016.
Currently, the Governor is keeping a tight schedule fundraising around the country, making pit stops in Sandy-ravaged shore towns. If he wins re-election in November, Christie could also be a contender to lead the Republican Governors Association in 2014.
Without skipping a beat while making the rounds, Christie plans to attend the annual National Governors Association black-tie dinner hosted by President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama Sunday. He returns the next morning for a governors’ meeting before heading back to New Jersey to prepare for his state’s budget address Tuesday.
He’s scheduled to hold a town hall meeting in Morris County Wednesday and then on Thursday, travels to Virginia for a fundraiser. On Friday, he’s off to Boston to raise more money for his re-election campaign.
Meantime, the state is experiencing 9.6% unemployment rate, while the rest of the nation has dropped to 7.8%. Economists look at a number of factors that may have contributed to the state’s slow economic recovery.
New Jersey is reliant on public service jobs where recovery in those fields still remains weak, especially for police and fire, where layoffs have been prevalent due to budgetary restraints in many small towns.
Secondly, the state had a moratorium on foreclosures in the courts for more than a year, meaning the state has been slow to move through a backlog of foreclosures. Since the foreclosure rate is high in the Garden State, it is now dealing with that backlog which holds back a viable real estate market, where many investors are reluctant to invest.
With regard to public employees, the state has undergone more austerity than in other states, and not just in overall jobs. Austerity refers to a policy of deficit-cutting by lowering spending with a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided. Austerity policies try to reduce deficit spending and are sometimes coupled with increases in taxes to demonstrate long-term fiscal solvency to creditors. Supporters of austerity predict that under expansionary fiscal contraction, a major reduction in government spending can change future expectations about taxes and government spending, encouraging private consumption and resulting in overall economic expansion. Critics argue, however, in periods of recession and high unemployment, austerity policies are counter-productive, and believe reduced government spending can increase unemployment, which increases safety net spending while reducing tax revenue.
On a national level, the public sector, at all levels of government, has shed more than 600,000 employees since mid-2009. On March 1, the cuts continue, with massive federal budget cuts ready to hit first responders, civilian military employees, public school students, and senior citizens, just to name a few.
In New Jersey, according to the George Mason Center for Regional Analysis, the cuts could wipe out nearly 32,000 jobs across the state and take away about $3 billion of the $60 billion Congress has already approved for Superstorm Sandy victims, as many hard hit by the hurricane continue to recover nearly four months later.