Christie in State of State: NJ Will Be Back “Stronger Than Ever”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie promised in his annual State of the State address Tuesday that New Jersey will be back "stronger than ever" after Sandy and will do it without returning to its "old ways of wasteful spending and rising taxes."

His speech, which focused heavily on the state of New Jersey after its most costly natural disaster, was more a pep talk than a blueprint for the state's future.

"The state is stronger today than it has been in years," said Christie, who has a national reputation who is sometimes mentioned in early speculation as a possible presidential candidate in 2016. "We are recovering and growing, not declining and descending."

The New Jersey-boosting speech also came from a governor who has announced a re-election bid for this year. So far, just one prominent Democrat — state Sen. Barbara Buono — has announced that she's running.

In his speech, Christie told the stories of several New Jersey residents who helped save others during the October storm, including Tracey Keelen and Jay Gehweiler who used a row boat to save more than 50 people and their pets in Brick Township.

Christie pledged he would keep pushing Congress to fund a $50 billion aid package to help clean up and rebuild the region after Sandy. Last week, he made waves when he lambasted a fellow Republican, House Speaker John Boehner, for delaying a vote on the issue.

He also said the state would clean up storm-ravaged Barnegat Bay and while implementing policies that would welcome new businesses.

He cited accomplishments over his first three years in Trenton, including a cap on property-tax growth and a reconfiguration of the state's higher education system.

Democrats say he missed some key points. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver faulted Christie for not addressing urban crime and for painting too rosy a picture of the state's economy.

In his State of the State speech a year ago, Christie had a surprise proposal to cut income taxes by 10 percent. For much of last year, the battle over whether New Jersey should — or could afford to — cut taxes was a centerpiece of Trenton politics. Christie did not get his way with the Democrat-controlled Legislature in the end.

This year, Christie did not unveil any major new initiatives dealing with Sandy recovery or other issues.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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