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N.J. Gov. Chris Christie touts bipartisanship in State of the State

Jan. 14, 2014 at 4:43 PM   |   Comments

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TRENTON, N.J., Jan. 14 (UPI) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, under fire for an alleged act of political retribution, touted bipartisanship in his State of the State message Tuesday.

The governor listed accomplishments, including four balanced budgets, tax cuts, a cap on property taxes, and pension and tenure reform, saying each "passed with bipartisan support." He said New Jersey has led the country in bipartisan accomplishment and "our people are proud of it."

Christie did not refer directly to the uproar of the September closings of access routes to the George Washington Bridge that snarled traffic for four days in Fort Lee. But he said "mistakes were clearly made."

"I know our citizens deserve better, much better," he said. "I'm the governor and I know I'm responsible for everything that happens on my watch, both good and bad."

The federal government is also reportedly planning to investigate the governor's use of Sandy relief funds for an advertising campaign that featured Christie and his family.

Christie, who has been considered a likely Republican presidential candidate in 2016, won re-election in a landslide in November. But he had no coattails, leaving the Democrats in control of both houses of the state Legislature.

As he laid out his plans for the next year, Christie focused on education, crime, and property and state taxes.

The governor praised the superintendents he appointed to run two of New Jersey's most troubled school systems, Newark and Camden.

Christie said while crime is down in the state, violent crime is still a problem, citing the killing of a young lawyer during a carjacking at an upscale mall in Short Hills. He called for a reform in the bail system to allow judges to deny bail to suspects deemed likely to commit more crimes if released.

But he also called for more compassion to non-violent criminals, including an expansion in drug courts.

One of the most controversial proposals in the speech was for more changes in the pension system to cut government expenses at all levels. Christie said many of the programs both he and the Democrats support will not be possible unless pension costs are reined in.

Democratic leaders, in their response to Christie's speech, accused the governor of reneging on a promise to fund pensions.

© 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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