New Jersey Governor Christie spent most of the time in his final state-of-the-state speech highlighting the accomplishments of his eight-years in office.
Christie credited the Democratically controlled legislature for helping him control public employee pension costs, reign in property tax increases, restructure higher education, and make needed improvements in Atlantic City and Camden.
“Due to the fighting attitude we brought and the pro-growth policies we have fought for and achieved together, I am proud to be here today to tell you that the state of our state is very good and without question much better than it was eight years ago.”
Senate President Steve Sweeney was among the Democratic legislative leaders who gave Christie’s speech positive reviews.
“You heard some really great things that did happen. Just imagine what can happen with a Democrat legislature, with a Democrat governor. We think great times are ahead.”
In his nearly hour-and-a-half speech Christie urged lawmakers to tackle some remaining issues.
It expired at the end of last year 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.
“If you do not act in a bipartisan way to renew the arbitration cap, the property taxes of our citizens will skyrocket again.”
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin says that’s something the legislature and Governor-elect Phil Murphy will discuss.
“We need to look at comprehensive tax reform. So interest arbitration may be one piece of that but it’s certainly not the entire solution to a much larger issue.”
Christie also wants lawmakers to do more to reduce the state’s costs of public employee pensions and health benefits.
Senate President Sweeney says the state is on a path to improving the pension system solvency and he wants to give Governor-elect Phil Murphy the chance to discuss what else can be done.
“We have made progress. The quarterly pension payment is a big step forward. And we’ll give Phil a chance to have conversations as the Governor with people to see what we can do and what we can’t do.”
Murphy will replace Christie as Governor next week.