Chris Christie gives final State of the State address


"Much like his mentor, Gov. (Tom) Kean, Christie had the rare ability to unite both sides of the aisle, reaching levels of bipartisan support rarely seen by New Jersey governors - let alone politicians, in general".

Notwithstanding Christie's upbeat self-appraisal, Garden State residents seem ready for this once-in-a-generation New Jersey pol to leave office.

The governor told the assembled lawmakers that the state's takeover of Atlantic City is to thank for recent reports of an economic revival in the resort town.

Christie gets low marks across the board for his handling of the state's economy, taxes, the state budget, education, transportation and infrastructure, the pension fund, and crime and drugs.

Gov. -elect Phil Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs banker who is to be sworn in next Tuesday, said Christie's "sunny picture of a state in good standing" belied a "dire state of fiscal crisis".

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New Jersey has one of the worst-funded pensions in the country, with a liability estimated at about $80 billion to $90 billion.

It expired at the end of a year ago and Christie called on lawmakers to renew the two percent cap on police and firefighter salary increases when their contract disputes go to binding arbitration.

"I want to tell you, none of this could have been accomplished without the relentless will of George Norcross", Christie said as he waved to Norcross in the gallery. "They're much more of an obsession of folks in the media and the know-nothing academics that you guys call all the time on speed dial, who literally have never done anything in politics". "But I'll tell you what was flawless: the effort, the compassion and the focus".

Christie was a short-list finalist to be Trump's running mate, before Trump picked now-Vice President Mike Pence. He also made no mention of his controversial 2010 decision to cancel a long-planned trans-Hudson rail tunnel or the continuing struggles involving NJ Transit, an area that Murphy has emphasized as a top priority for his incoming administration.

"What you heard today is what is possible when two parties are willing to work together", said Sweeney (D-Gloucester).

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"Because I think in the presidential race I had some control over the situation and I just lost".

Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, offered far more direct praise, including Assemblyman Anthony Bucco (R-Morris). "I hope, as we move forward, governors and senators respect the rule of law and finish the job we started-by keeping the bench full and politically balanced".

The poll caps a dramatic slide in Christie's favorability, which reached a high in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, culminating in his re-election victory in 2013. "The vast majority of voters in New Jersey think he put that above everything else".

"Historically, the public's attitude softens a bit", Murray said.

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