Chris Christie on Government Reform



Consolidate duplicative town governments into single towns

We have worked with the Senate to try to pass real consolidation and civil service reform. We haven't gotten it done in the Assembly. [We should] provide local government with the authority to run their governments like a business: consolidate, share services, cut duplication and ultimately actually reduce property taxes.

Look at what happened last year in Princeton. Princeton Borough and Princeton Township consolidated into a single government. Not two tax departments, two police forces, two offices answering the phone. The savings in one year: $3 million. That's on a budget of $64 million, a 4.7% savings. And the citizens of Princeton got this: more services, despite a smaller budget, and a reduction in municipal taxes.

This is not just my opinion--the local Reorganization & Consolidation Commission said that civil service seniority rules topped the list of barriers to shared services. Let's help our towns clear away arcane rules that stand between them and lower property taxes.

Source: 2014 State of the State address to N.J. Legislature , Jan 14, 2014

Vetoes expanded early-voting system; no side-by-side systems

Christie vetoed a bill that would allow early voting at polling places, calling a proposal to let voters cast ballots at designated polling places during a 15-day period before Election Day "hasty, counterproductive and less reliable" than the current system. "I support responsible and cost-efficient election reform that increases voter participation because democracy works best when the most people vote," Christie said in the veto message. "But this bill risks the integrity and orderly administration of our elections by introducing a new voting method and process."

Christie said the expanded early voting system envisioned by the Legislature would create a side-by-side voting process, noting it would cost the state $23 million in the first year and $2 million each year after that. He also questioned the security of transporting paper ballots around the state during the early voting period and the call for a quick setup before July 1.

Source: Newark Star Ledger on 2013 N.J. governor debates , May 9, 2013

Stricter limits on PAC campaign donations

Stricter limits on PAC campaign donations That 1st race introduced several reform themes that would be associated with Christie throughout his political career. He pledged to propose bills against "inflated pensions" for lawmakers, calling them "inappropriate for part-time legislators."
Source: Rise to Power, by B. Ingle & M. Symons, p. 46 , Jun 5, 2012

1998: Opposed spending $15,000 for new public utility logo

1998: Opposed spending $15,000 for new public utility logo In a missive that hinted at the crusades he'd wage years later against independent authorities and perceived wasteful spending, no matter how miniscule, he wrote a letter to the editor criticizing the 1998: Opposed spending $15,000 for new public utility logo Instead of `rocking the boat' and asking the tough questions, they choose to sit by silently while the
Source: Rise to Power, by B. Ingle & M. Symons, p. 64 , Jun 5, 2012

1997: Doubled size of US Attorney's anti-corruption unit

1997: Doubled size of US Attorney's anti-corruption unit The US attorney's office in NJ had a solid reputation--before Christie arrived--for prosecuting corrupt political figures, although Christie said he felt rooting out political corruption had taken a backseat. Then a special agent created the 1997: Doubled size of US Attorney's anti-corruption unit Under Christie, that reputation was taken to new heights. NJ political corruption is like a small lake full of fish, where a dedicated prosecutor need only cast a net to gather a basketful of potential criminals.
Source: Rise to Power, by B. Ingle & M. Symons, p. 75 , Jun 5, 2012

Judges who legislate from the bench will not be reappointed

Judges who legislate from the bench will not be reappointed On radio the subject of the state's controversial left-leaning Supreme Court was debated. Lonegan and Merkt said they would replace all justices who came up for lifetime--after 7 years on the bench. Judges who legislate from the bench will not be reappointed If in fact you're interpreting the constitution and interpreting the statutes, then you have an opportunity to be reappointed," Christie said.

Source: Rise to Power, by B. Ingle & M. Symons, p.137 , Jun 5, 2012

Forced resignations at Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission

Take the states bountiful supply of independent authorities--each with a well-intentioned purpose, but also serving as a mostly unchecked pit for patronage and government largesse. Governors have long had a team in their chief counsel's office keeping tabs on the shadow government. Christie's squad shone a light on their spending--with torches, not flashlights, to help the new governor send a message to the bureaucracy that the party was over.

In his first month in office, Christie vetoed the minutes of 4 authorities, thus rendering moot whatever they were trying to do. He also forced the head of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission to resign over his $313,000 annual salary. The governor is paid $175,000. Later, almost 100 people were fired, stepped down, or arrested from the commission. Minutes for authorities, boards, and commissions had rarely been vetoed by governors, but he did so more than 2 dozen times in his first 2 years.

Source: Rise to Power, by B. Ingle & M. Symons, p.191 , Jun 5, 2012

Corruption is key because people need faith in government

[In 2002], the new US Attorney began making public corruption a top priority of his office. Christie often explained corruption was key because people need to have faith in their government and its institutions. But it also made for huge headlines and Christie simply loved huge headlines. Within days of Christie becoming the new US Attorney, the FBI arrested Paterson mayor Marty Barnes, who was charged with handing out millions of dollars in public contracts in return for vacation trips, a new swimming pool and waterfall for his home, expensive suits, and other luxury items. It wasn't Christie's case, developed long before he arrived, but it was the 1st public corruption indictment to come before Christie, and he spoke out strongly.

"The conduct here is the most reprehensible type of public conduct that you can find anywhere in this country," he declared. "It is personal and financial gratification at the expense of the public, using your public office to do that. And it's disgraceful."

Source: The Jersey Sting, by Sherman & Margolin, p. 83 , Apr 10, 2012

Legacy as U.S. Attorney: dismantled N.J. Democratic Party

Behind closed doors, they say Chris Christie's goal and legacy as a US Attorney was the systematic dismantling of some of the state's leading political organizations, in Bergen, Hudson, and Middlesex. They argued that Christie came to office while the Democratic Party was riding high and heading toward its zenith in NJ. They say he was determined to bust it down. They openly criticize him for using a strike force of federal agents and the vast resources of the Justice Department to go after politicians to benefit himself and his party instead of fighting gangs and fraud and the things that are always said to "really matter to people."

Christie laughs at that: "That's the kind of thing that's said by people who were never in that office."

Source: The Jersey Sting, by Sherman & Margolin, p.324 , Apr 10, 2012

Allow just one public salary for state legislators

New Jersey's Legislature is crammed with people collecting more than one public paycheck. About one in three state lawmakers do this, according to a recent Star-Ledger analysis.But dual office-holding also has a dark side: conflicts of interest, no-show jobs and political favors. Gov. Chris Christie has proposed a solution that sounds simple: Allow just one public salary. Legislators would still be free to take other government jobs, elective or otherwise, but could collect a salary for only one of them.

Christie's on the right track. Christie has proposed more detailed financial disclosure for all government officials, and there is simply no excuse for the Legislature to resist that. At a minimum, the public has a right to know about potential conflicts. The governor also proposes a sensible requirement that legislators recuse themselves from a vote if they face any conflict of interest.

Source: Newark Star-Ledger Editorial , Jun 5, 2011

More control over state commissions

This week Governor Christie unveiled [government ethics] reforms asking for sensible changes. He wants the power to veto agencies' board-meeting minutes within 15 days; the agencies to be governed by state ethics rules; the state comptroller to be able to look at agencies' books; and commissioners to serve without pay or benefits. He also wants the power to fire board members for cause,

The proposal may come off as Christie takes all, but should it pass it would apply to both Republican and Democratic governors, with board members often serving over two gubernatorial administrations. The parties would be mixed and matched enough, we hope, to shake out any tendencies toward political favoritism. Whether these commissions have done anything wrong in the past doesn't matter. The point is to stop any abuse and waste from happening from now on. We need the law.

Source: The Bergen Record, "Needed authority" , Apr 1, 2011

Refused to reappoint activist judge to NJ Supreme Court

Newly elected Republican governor Chris Christie is turning heads in tax-strapped New Jersey by working through the closure of an $11 billion budget gap in 2010. As noted in the "Economist", he has "taken on a notoriously cranky legislature and has stare down the powerful teachers' union. He has even refused to reappoint a judge to New Jersey's activist Supreme Court." This is how we get things done in states with a little courage and wherewithal.

State and local governments are not perfect. We all have lots of waste we can end, lots of bureaucratic red tape we need to streamline ourselves, and we have laws that could be improved to maximize freedom. But the value proposition offered by state and local governments as compared with the federal government is, in fact, incomparable. Imagine how strong we could be if the federal government didn't interfere with us and if we didn't often have to do its job.

Source: Fed Up!, by Gov. Rick Perry, p.160 , Nov 15, 2010

Use the line item veto; put everything online

Source: 2009 Gubernatorial campaign website, christiefornj.com , Nov 3, 2009

10-point plan to punish criminal officeholders

Unveiling a 10-point plan he said would punish criminal officeholders and cut down on conflicts of interest, Christie blamed Corzine's "failure of leadership" for allowing corruption to fester. He said the governor has put politics ahead of principles an failed to implement strong ethics laws that Corzine himself campaigned on in 2005. "If the governor had the will to lead, some of the things on this list would be done," Christie said. "He always feels great despair after people are arrested, and he's willing to stand up and fight--and then the minute the political bosses and his patrons in the Legislature push back, he falls back on his back."

Corzine's campaign hit back with the latest in a series of television advertisements designed to undermine Christie's own ethics. The ad highlights Christie's past as a fundraiser for former President George W. Bush, who appointed Christie as US Attorney. The ad labels that pay-to-play, a practice Christie and Corzine have pledged to crack down on.

Source: Newark Star-Ledger coverage: 2009 N.J. gubernatorial debates , Aug 5, 2009

Cut wasteful spending; empower fiscal watchdogs

Gov. Corzine's spending is out of control. Taxpayer dollars are being wasted on ineffective programs while priority programs that have a positive impact on the quality of life of New Jersey families remain underfunded. Chris Christie will manage spending and take control of New Jersey's priorities by budgeting for the future & cutting wasteful spending.It's time for a governor who will improve transparency, strengthen accountability and put the taxpayer first. It's the tone Chris Christie first set as US Attorney and it's how he will serve as governor.
Source: 2009 Gubernatorial campaign website, christiefornj.com , Jul 21, 2009

Other governors on Government Reform: Chris Christie on other issues:
NJ Gubernatorial:
Barbara Buono
Cory Booker
NJ Senatorial:
Cory Booker
Frank Pallone
Jeff Bell
Jeff Chiesa
Murray Sabrin
Robert Menendez
Rush Holt
Steve Lonegan

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Page last updated: Jan 19, 2015