I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Still Running Against Corzine

The campaign never really ended:
Speaking before a Republican crowd of about 1,000 in Indianapolis, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie calls his New Jersey predecessor - Jon Corzine - the "quintessential limousine liberal democrat" and he offers more detail about how Christie says Corzine used wire transfers at 10:30 on the morning of Christie's inauguration to give some presents "Jersey style" to friends in Democratic strongholds across the state and help turn a $500 million surplus into a $2.2 billion deficit. (10/26/2010) 
Click through and watch the video if you can stomach it, then come back here.

I'll wait...


Don't feel so good, huh? Yeah, alright, go get some Pepto or something...


OK, now let's talk:

In the video, Christie says he "heard some rumors" about Corzine giving money to the cities:
The morning that I was sworn in as governor, we heard a rumor that Governor Corzine was doing some stuff with the finances of the state on the way out to give some presents, Jersey-style, to some friends on the way out. So, we heard he was going to wire transfer a few hundred million dollars to some of the major cities of New Jersey so they could get that money before the Big Bad Wolf came to Trenton.
Funny, the rest of us heard about it in the pages of the newspaper a FULL WEEK before it happened:
TRENTON -- A state legislative committee this morning funneled $44 million to a fund for distressed cities, on top of $117.4 million in aid already budgeted, less than a week after Gov.-elect Chris Christie said he would eliminate that type of aid when he takes office Jan. 19. 
"Seriously, there's eight days left. Can he please keep his hand out of the cash register for the last eight days?" Christie said. "We're in a situation now where we are going to be unable to meet payroll in March. He's now taken $44 million more off of the payroll of state workers for March. That's what he's done. He's put us $44 million closer to insolvency. Now, I guess since he's leaving office he doesn't care. But it is my job to care."
OK, that's $44 million, right? And a total of about $150 million. Does that sound like "a few hundred million" to you?

Oh, and may I point out that even this didn't stop him from still giving a $600 million gift to the state's millionaires?

He goes on to describe Corzine's transfer that morning of the money. But go back to the S-L article from January:
The money, called special municipal aid, has for decades been used to help cities that can't make their own budgets. This year, $117.4 million was initially budgeted by the Legislature and governor, and nearly $28 million has already been given out to Newark, Harrison and Asbury Park by the Local Finance Board, which oversees the program through the Department of Community Affairs.
On Wednesday, the board is scheduled to vote on aid for five cities. Board Chairwoman Susan Jacobucci has recommended $27 million for Paterson, $2.25 million for Bridgeton, $11 million for Union City, $67 million for Camden and $14 million for Jersey City.
Jacobucci said the state needed the extra $44 million to be able to meet the needs of other cities while fulfilling its legal obligation to Camden, which is under state fiscal control. The Legislature today is supposed to vote on returning broad powers to Camden's newly sworn-in Mayor Dana Redd.
The extra money is coming from a surplus identified by Corzine as part of his "December solution." To deal with a $1 billion deficit in the current $29 billion budget, Corzine in December announced he had stripped $839 million in spending and created a $550 million cushion for the end of the year.
In December, the governor's office put out a press release to announce the budget changes, but it did not issue anything out on today's moves. When asked whether Corzine gave his blessing to the special municipal aid transfer, a Treasury Department spokesman said,"The budget remains balanced, maintaining a [current year] surplus of approximately $500 million."
Huh. Doesn't really sound like this was a big surprise to anyone - especially since state aid has been used FOR DECADES. Of course, if the state withheld the aid, it would mean an increase in local property taxes. Gosh, that sounds familiar...

He goes on in the video about how Corzine screwed him over because the deficit was SO much larger than anyone knew. We all know how this played out: Christie needed to gin up a fiscal crisis so he could wage war on teachers. So he played with the numbers:
Corzine and his advisers accused Christie of pulling numbers out of thin air and insisted they left the incoming governor with a $496 million surplus.
"Gov. Christie’s remarks demonstrate a poor temperament, and a casual relationship with the facts," said Corzine spokesman Josh Zeitz. "Being governor entitles you to do a lot of things, but fabricating budget numbers from whole cloth isn’t one of them."
At issue is the validity of revenue projections for the ongoing $29 billion budget Corzine signed last June. A memo by Corzine Treasurer David Rousseau said that while the overall budget deficit was $1.1 billion -- including a revenue shortfall of $425 million -- a series of budget cuts and other actions left a $496 million surplus as of Jan. 14.
Corzine advisers cast doubt on the projected revenue shortfall, saying Treasury does not routinely issue such reports because revenue collections can fluctuate wildly from December through April, especially in an unpredictable economy. Ratings agencies studying the state’s creditworthiness are particularly sensitive to dire forecasts, said Brad Abelow, Corzine’s former treasurer and chief of staff.
So what's the takeaway here?

1) Has there ever been a less magnanimous winner in politics than Chris Christie? Has anyone in modern politics ever spent as much time blaming his predecessor for every fault in the world as much as Chris Christie? I seem to recall the conservative pearl-clutchers getting the vapors about Barack Obama daring to mention that he inherited the worst recession since the Great Depression; they can't get enough, however, of their golden boy continuing to run against a guy who's been out of office for close to a year.

2) Is there a bigger megalomaniac American politics today than Chris Christie? Is there anyone who is as full of his own perceived greatness? The entire story he fabricates here is designed only to shine a spotlight on his "mavericky" ways.

3) Is there a bigger BS artist than Chris Christie? He just does not care about the facts. "We heard rumors..." Does he not care that it took a stupid blogger like me all of five minutes to find the links to prove this story is complete garbage? Does he think no one in NJ has a memory? Does he just not care?

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