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Research by Dae Alighieri, written by Dae Aligheri and Vanessa Waltz
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been touting a “record” of being moderate and bipartisan – and many folks are buying it – yet the opposite is true. With his sights set on the 2016 presidential election, it’s critical for voters to understand that while he may not be spouting the standard Tea Party rhetoric in his interviews, Christie’s political moves have been extremely conservative.
Polls strongly favor Christie in his gubernatorial re-election bid against democrat Barbara Buono, but as they head to the polls Tuesday, do New Jersey voters even know the real Chris Christie? A quick rundown of his record on critical issues, accompanied by links to news stories, tells the truth.
In 2010, Christie removed the only African-American justice on the state Supreme Court for no clear reason. Justice John E. Wallace was the first jurist to be denied reappointment by a New Jersey governor since the current state constitution was adopted in 1947.
In 2012, Christie vetoed New Jersey’s marriage equality bill after it passed both houses of the state legislature. He also commented that the US Supreme Court’s overruling of the Defense of Marriage act was “wrong.”
In 2012, Christie vetoed legislation ensuring pay equity for women in New Jersey, calling the bill “senseless bureaucracy.” Also in 2012, he vetoed funding for women’s health clinics that provide cancer screenings, contraceptives, and preventive care, despite the fact that none of the funding would have gone toward abortion services. Again in 2013, Christie vetoed a bill funding women’s health clinics that had passed both houses of the New Jersey legislature.
The Christie administration added regulations to the already restrictive New Jersey Compassionate Use Act, requiring a 10% cap on THC content, mandating a 3-strain limit for dispensaries, and implementing a public registry for all participating physicians. The Christie administration additionally delayed implementation of New Jersey’s medical marijuana law for years.
While Christie’s own press release reads, “Governor Chris Christie Eases Access to New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program for Sick Children,” there is much more to this summer’s national headline story. After waiting until the three month veto period was about to expire, Christie finally signed a bill removing the 3-strain limit, allowing the sale of edible medical marijuana products. However, Christie also signed a conditional veto on the bill, limiting edible products to patients under 18 years of age and refusing to budge on restrictive physician requirements.
Christie has also stated that he will veto any marijuana decriminalization bill that comes across his desk, despite the fact that such bills are designed to protect legal card-holding patients who continue to be arrested for possession in New Jersey.
In 2012, Christie diverted $210 million from New Jersey’s clean air fund, bringing the total money diverted from clean energy efforts to $620 million since his election. Christie also withdrew New Jersey’s participation in a 10-state 10-year emissions reduction act, effectively ending related investment in renewable energy sources.
In a move critics claim was intended to play to both state and national interests, Christie vetoed a ban on fracking in New Jersey, but recommended a one-year moratorium on the practice.
And even after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, Christie still denies the reality of global warming.
Despite Christie’s claims that the state is thriving financially, New Jersey currently has the highest property taxes in the country, with net increases during Christie’s term far exceeding those during the previous administration of democrat Jon Corzine.
In early 2013, Christie vetoed a bill increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50, stating the increase would hurt the state’s economy. For 3 consecutive years, Christie vetoed an income tax hike on New Jersey’s top 1%, and called for additional legislation extending further tax breaks to the top 1%.
Christie also scheduled a special senate election 3 weeks before his own gubernatorial re-election contest, in an attempt to decrease voter turnout. Adding a second election day cost New Jersey taxpayers $24 million.
More than a year after Hurricane Sandy, many New Jersey residents who lost their houses in the storm are still homeless, with the state’s foreclosures up 67% over last year. Residents of some shore towns are still waiting for cleanup efforts funded by federal aid, while paying 20% in property taxes on their condemned homes.
FEMA had warned the New Jersey state Attorney General’s office that disbursement of federal aid for Sandy cleanup would be jeopardized by the Christie administration’s cleanup contracts with AshBritt, awarded just days after the hurricane. The “Ashbritt Scandal” involved no-bid contracts with 48 towns that paid the company up to 3 times the rate of other towns; AshBritt had donated funds to New Jersey republican election bids as well as paying New Jersey republican leaders as “consultants.”
In 2013, Christie vetoed a bill banning gestation crates, enclosures that prevent pregnant sows from freely turning around, standing up, lying down, or fully extending their limbs. Current animal rights laws do nothing to prevent containing sows in these crates for most of their lives.
In his first year as governor, Christie cut public school funding by more than $1 billion. Even after admonishment by the New Jersey State Supreme Court, which ruled his budget cuts “unconstitutional,” Christie stated that he disagreed with the court-mandated funding, and would cooperate only under constitutional obligation.
Last month, speaking about public education, Christie stated, “I would be happy to take as many dollars as possible away from failure factories that send children on a no-stop route to prison and to failed dreams, if we could take that money and put it into a place where those families have hope.”
If re-elected as the Governor of New Jersey, Christie will likely have to resign halfway through his term if he decides to make a bid for the 2016 US presidential race, due to regulations on fund-raising. Despite the fact that Christie has not yet declared his candidacy, he has spent at least 91 days of the past year outside of New Jersey, using state funds for his travel expenses.
Still think he’s so bipartisan and moderate?
If Christie wins the gubernatorial election, he will also be aiming for presidency which would mean that he will hit the campaign trail halfway through his term. Would you rather have a short-term governor with the record detailed above, or long-term governor who won’t abandon her state for national political interests?
As always, voters, the choice is yours. Be informed and choose wisely.