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By July 5, 2017 Read More →

Governor Furloughs Workers, Hits the Beach

Photo: Flickr

There are quite a few state troopers out there who are not happy with their Governor, but none more so than New Jersey State Troopers who have called their governor, Chris Christie, “the worst governor in the United States.” When Christie announced that he would shut the state down over a dispute about the budget, he exempted the state police, but the troopers were still outraged at the injustice of state employees, not knowing if they were going to get a paycheck or not.

Chris Burgos, president of the New Jersey State Troopers organization, says Governor Chris Christie has been a disaster for the people of New Jersey, including its residents and state employees.

Chris Burgos, president of the N.J. State Troopers Association said he was relieved his members would not be furloughed. However, up to 50,000 NJ state workers face indefinite unpaid furloughs until a budget is signed, Burgos said. Christie is the worst governor in the country…true to form for Governor Christie.


Christie is another matter. For better or worse, he is the face of state government. He gets credit when it runs efficiently. He gets blamed when it breaks down. It comes with the job, and no amount of Pilate-like hand washing — and finger pointing — will change that.

“Unless Christie is willing…to do an entire ad campaign on Vincent Prieto, he is the one who is going to be held responsible for the state shutdown,” said Patrick Murray, the Monmouth University pollster.

Angry visitors turned away at closed state parks will blame Christie. So will the people annoyed at finding the motor vehicle offices closed. And the tens of thousands of state government workers furloughed without pay? The boss will be the first target.

It’s axiomatic that the chief executive is the first one to get blamed in a government shutdown, but not automatic. President Bill Clinton emerged the victor in a government shutdown squabble with the House Republicans in the late 1990s. The public blamed the congressional Republicans in the two-week government shutdown in 2013, not President Barack Obama.

And former Gov. Jon S. Corzine, whose stubborn insistence over a sales tax hike prompted a nine-day shutdown in 2006, eventually emerged the winner of that fight, although his approval rating — and the new revenue — would quickly vanish.

But Christie is a different matter. He ensured that the public saw him as the all-encompassing power of Trenton, the ruler at the center of the New Jersey political universe, where all power flowed from his office on West State Street.

He dominated the debate, letting no one speak on his behalf. Christie became a national Republican celebrity, the rare New Jersey governor who became a talking head on television, a touted future presidential candidate who charmed Nancy Reagan and Henry Kissinger and dined with Donald Trump. And then the Bridgegate scandal wiped away all that promise.

Now, for better or worse, Trenton remains his dominion. Everything revolves around him. That was the image he cultivated.

Over recent days, Christie has acted as if he was unfazed at the prospect of being blamed. After all, he’s not up for reelection, he’s argued. Yet that didn’t stop him from building his inside-the-dome case that Prieto was the obstructionist.

Christie said he would take action on any budget that arrives on his desk, with or without a Horizon bill. But if the Legislature sends him a budget without the Horizon bill — and a separate bill that would transfer the state lottery assets into the public employee pension funds — Christie said he would use his power to veto Democratic priorities out of the budget.

“I’m giving (Assembly Democrats) two choices, both of which do not close the government, they don’t want either one of them. What the hell do you want me to do?” he said.

Christie also blasted Prieto as a hypocrite, noting that he co-sponsored a bill in 2006 that would have tapped Horizon’s reserves to help cover the cost of uninsured “charity care” patients at hospitals.

“This unmasks him,” Christie said.

Prieto, whose efforts have been stymied by a breakaway faction of Democrats from south Jersey and Middlesex County, said his thinking has evolved since then. He now argues that the Horizon bill represented a political power grab that was being rammed through the Assembly at the last minute.

The bill with its vague, new powers grants to the state insurance commissioner, could give the state the ability to tap the insurer’s surplus, and cause premiums to rise. It was too much of a risk, especially with the volatility surrounding the Senate’s planned overhaul of Affordable Care Act, Prieto argued.

Prieto rallied his supporters in a midday State House news conference — a coalition of labor, environmental and liberal party activists who are furious with Christie and view the Horizon bill as nothing more than a money grab engineered with the help of Senate President Stephen Sweeney and his political benefactor and friend, south Jersey party leader George Norcross.

When Prieto walked into the room, a person shouted “Here comes the speaker!” and the crowd erupted into cheers. Prieto noted that opposition to the Horizon bill has come from “all the way from the left and all the way to the right. It’s incredible. Strange bedfellows.”

The dueling events made for great drama inside the State House dome. Those activists know “Vinny.” He meets with them regularly, knows them on first name basis. But outside the dome, he’s not very well known. Christie, on the other hand, is a household name.

“There will be a long list of things, pro and con, on my legacy,” Christie said, maintaining his new reasonable tone.

And the shutdown will be one of them on that list.


Posted in: The Enemy

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