“But one thing we do know for sure is that we have to make government smaller. We need to make government more efficient. We need to shrink the size of government. Because New Jerseyans are the most overtaxed citizens in America and I am simply not going to raise taxes on already overtaxed New Jerseyans to pay for more big government.” - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
The Governor went on WCBS 880 today to discuss New Jersey’s current and future budget situation, his Executive Order 17 which creates a task force to develop a comprehensive approach to workforce privatization, the New Jersey Nets, and much more.
To listen to the audio of the interview click HERE.
The full transcript is provided below.
PAT CARROLL: While Governor Patterson deals a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, across the river Governor Christie has big money problems of his own. And Governor Christie joins us live this morning. Good morning Governor.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Good morning Pat, how are you?
PAT CARROLL: Were fine. You’ve got some big jobs ahead of you. Your Budget address coming up Tuesday and you expect that to be pretty painful.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: It’s going to be painful, Pat, it really is. We have an inherited an 11.2 billion dollar budget deficit for next fiscal year. We’ll be addressing that budget deficit in my speech on Tuesday and I will tell you it’s going to be painful for all New Jerseyans. But I know that if we dig in and we fix our problems honestly now that we’ll be in a position for economic growth as the economy recovers.
MICHAEL WALLACE: Well let’s look ahead to some of that pain Governor. You’re talking about layoffs and even privatizing thousands of jobs.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Well listen, you know Governor Corzine entered an agreement with the state workers’ unions during the campaign that ties my hands on layoffs and I can’t do anything regarding layoffs until January of 2011 and the earliest. And so, we’ll be having an announcement today regarding an Executive Order that will look at the issue of privatization. And whether or not it makes sense for us to privatize a number of functions of state government in order to save money since the state workers’ unions have been unwilling to come forward and be part of a shared sacrifice that all New Jerseyans are engaged in.
PAT CARROLL: Now some unions say that state workers are being made a scapegoat and now there is a plan to require all of them to live in New Jersey. Thoughts on that.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Listen, they’re not being made a scapegoat I think when you’re talking about an 11 billion dollar problem in a state of eight million plus people, everyone has to come to the center of the room, share in the sacrifice and not be procurable or protecting your own turf but unfortunately while many other people been willing to sacrifice, the state workers’ unions believe that many of their members are entitled to 11% salary increases in the next fiscal year while we have 10% unemployment in New Jersey and people not being able to pay their mortgages or stay in their homes. That’s not fairness but we’ll listen, we’re going to look at privatization and see if that’s a way we can go around the sweet deal that Governor Corzine gave to the state workers’ unions.
PAT CARROLL: And one of the things we hear you’re thinking about is invoking a disaster control act so you can suspend civil service so it will be easier to layoff the higher paid workers.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Well listen, there has been all kinds of speculation I think it’s safe to say Pat the when you’re in this type of crises you need to consider every option. No option is more prominent on the table than others at this point. And we’ll be talking in more detail on Tuesday about the different things we’re going to do both in the short term and long term to try to put New Jersey on firm fiscal footing so our children and grand-children can afford to live here.
MICHAEL WALLACE: When you talk about the privatization of state jobs Governor. Do you have any idea which ones you might be targeting?
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: That’s why I’m putting together this group to look at it. I don’t. I want to get a group of responsible and experienced New Jerseyans to come together and study this thing and give me some at advice regarding what might make sense and they might come back and say you know certain things make sense and others don’t. I’m not going to pre-judge it. I think that is the wrong way to approach this kind of thing, if you’re going to put a group together let them do the work and I’ll make the judgments as Governor once they come back to me. But one thing we do know for sure is that we have to make government smaller. We need to make government more efficient. We need to shrink the size of government. Because New Jerseyans are the most overtaxed citizens in America and I am simply not going to raise taxes on already overtaxed New Jerseyans to pay for more big government.
PAT CARROLL: If you do this privatization plan that your considering, do you expect and kind of legal challenge form the unions?
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: As I said, you know I think all that stuff is speculation for the future Pat, but the people of New Jersey elected me to act and to act boldly and decisively, that’s what we’re going to do. And if the course of that legal challenges come, we’ve had a few of them already, that’s what happens when entrenched interests want to keep their piece of the pie and don’t want to share in the sacrifice that New Jerseyans have to make. My job as Governor is to make those decisions on a fair and even basis, and if we go to court, we’ll let the chips fall where they may.
MICHAEL WALLACE: You mentioned those entrenched groups, in the campaign you warned things were going to be different. You have obviously upset a lot of school district by suspending school aid. Now you’ve got the unions fired up as you promised you would do. Not making a lot of friends early on as you probably didn’t expect to anyway.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Well Listen, my job is to protect the taxpayers of the state of New Jersey, and to make New Jersey a place where my kids and my grandkids can grow up, and candidly right now they wouldn’t be able to afford to do that. And so, you know, if I anger people at times with these things that’s because I’m taking on special interest in the state that we should have taken on many years ago. There cannot be special classes of people, public employees in particular, who get double digit raises in the middle of a recession while we have 10% unemployment. And in some instances pay nothing for their health benefits that cost, for family coverage, anywhere between 18 and 25 thousand dollars a year. Nobody in the private sector has that kind of deal, and we can’t ask property tax payers and income tax payers to foot the bill for a special class of citizens.
PAT CARROLL: Any thoughts about the ground being broken today for the New Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, the new home the Nets?
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Well listen, you know that the Nets for the next two years, because of a deal that we made in our administration will be moving to the Prudential Center in Newark. And listen I am still continue to be hopeful, that the Nets might stay in New Jersey, but even if they don’t I think we now have a facility at the Prudential Center that will be showcased for other NBA teams for the next two years. And I think there might be some other NBA teams that might want to come to New Jersey and play in a beautiful place like the Prudential Center, so we’re going to keep all of our options open to continue to have NBA basketball in New Jersey.
MICHAEL WALLACE: Teams such as…
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Oh, no, no Mike. No, no, no.
MICHAEL WALLACE: Hey, they pay me the little bucks to ask the big questions.
PAT CARROLL: Our ears perked up when we heard that.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: We’ll take our time and be happy to talk to anyone who wants to make New Jersey home. And I think after the changes that we need to make, to make New Jersey a tax friendlier and business friendlier state, there will be a lot of folks who’ll want to come to New Jersey.
PAT CARROLL: Thanks for your time this morning Governor.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Pat and Mike thank you very much for having me.
PAT CARROLL: Maybe someday soon it will be more fun to be Governor, uh?
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Um, let me tell you, it’s not so bad, it’s not so bad. We’re going to get the job done.
PAT CARROLL: Thank you very much.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Thank you.
PAT CARROLL: Governor Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey.