A reader writes:
Thank you for highlighting the work of Chris Christie here in NJ. I'm a Democrat. I didn't vote for him, but I didn't vote for him primarily because of the campaign he ran and his refusal to condemn the actions of Bush and the national party. But after the election, he did something very few politicians do. He chose to do more to balance the state budget than he'd originally promised. He backtracked on campaign promises that should not have been kept (like his vague reassurances to the teachers unions, or his promise to increase property tax rebates), while keeping many of the promises that were most needed and most difficult to fulfill. It's really surprised me, and I'm thankful that more NJ residents voted for him than for Corzine (who all but the most partisan Democrat will admit was an awful governor).
Christie's acted as though the last 20 years of Republican evolution never happened. He's also the first governor our state has had in quite a long time who's actually interested in running the state effectively. It's really quite refreshing.
Video above via E.D. Kain who writes:
Mark Thompson noted not long ago that a lot of Christie’s spending cuts were really just spending shifts to local municipalities. Now, to be fair, this goes into something I’ve been pushing autonomy and if local governments have to bear the fiscal burden and get their autonomy out of the deal maybe that could work out well at least for mid to large sized cities.
Zooming in, two Jersey readers are upset over Christie's cuts in two areas - libraries and public broadcasting. One writes:
The Governor has called on government programs to embrace group contracts, shared services, and fiscal responsibility. The libraries in New Jersey have long been adherents to these principles. Group contracts for databases and internet access have resulted in taxpayer savings of nearly 100 million dollars; the borrowing of books between NJ libraries saves additional taxpayer monies in utilizing shared resources; and many libraries stay within their budgets and put away money for future constructions and projects. Yet, rather than being elevated as a role model for what the Governor wishes department heads to emulate, funding for state library programs is being slashed by 74%.
This would eliminate funding for internet access for over 80% of libraries around the state at a time when the unemployment rate is roughly 10% and employers have moved their employment applications exclusively online. At a time when reliance on the internet is at an all time high by those on the other side of the digital divide, this funding would be cut.
The response from the Governor's office to the elimination of funding has been a stock answer: that it is all part of the statewide shared sacrifice. This shared sacrifice is being performed on the backs of the unemployed, small businesses, students of all grade level, and those without internet access. He cannot, in any amount of seriousness, hope to revitalize the state economy and lower the unemployment levels by taking away funding from the one government entity that unequivocally supports small business and the unemployed. It's an untenable position.
The budget axe does fall heavy, but it should not fall on the heaviest on the programs that embrace the principles the fiscal responsibility the most.
And yes, I'm biased on this subject. I rallied with other librarians last week at the state capital for the restoration of funding. It's not even a big sum by any measure of the government spending imagination; it's $10.4 million dollars. But it irks me when a Governor touts one thing and then punishes the people who are already engaged in doing it.
I can't argue with NJ Gov. Christie being a potential bad-ass, budget-wise. But he's not playing an honest man's game. This story needs to be told:
Our state's public broadcasting network, NJN, is in danger of being handed over - for nothing - to its interim director, Howard Blumenthal, who was brought in with the guise of rescuing the network from its budget crisis. Christie is on board with this seemingly criminal transaction; he and Blumenthal, who is angling to take over the network, are claiming the network's assets are worth $5 million, tops. According to one of the network's founders, the network (esp. its expensive transistors) is worth at least $250 million. Word has it that Blumenthal intends to sell the airspace to cellular companies (e.g., Verizon) - and this money is going where? We know where it's not going to go: to New Jerseyans, currently the stakeholders in NJN. And everyone knows our state is mad broke, right?
(Full disclosure: I only know of this angle to the story because my sibling and his colleagues at NJN were told unceremoniously, by Blumenthal, to ready their resumes.)
The beauty of the Dish is that it reaches into local stories - across the country and the world. While "the fiscal balls of Chris Christie" may seem admirable from afar, please hold that thought until you hear from the locals.
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