As he eyes a presidential run, Gov. Chris Christie delivered a State of the State speech Tuesday aimed at defining his record as New Jersey governor for a national audience, but he offered mostly incremental new plans for the state.
Many of the accomplishments Christie cited go back to his first years in an office he has held since 2010, including capping local property tax growth and cutting government spending.
During the speech at New Jersey's State House, Christie spoke to those well past the state's borders when noting lessons he learned while campaigning for Republican gubernatorial candidates around the country last year.
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"We are a nation beset by anxiety," he said. "It is understandable. Economic growth is low by post-war recovery standards. America's leadership in the world is called into question because of a pattern of indecision and inconsistency."
Christie's speech comes as he's taken steps that suggest he's inching closer to a run. He had said he planned to discuss his future with his family over the holidays and make a decision early this year.
But pressure began mounting following an announcement by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush that he would be launching a fundraising operation. Former GOP nominee Mitt Romney has also been telling supporters he is seriously considering running again.
In New Jersey, Christie is facing pressure to address several local issues.
He's promised for months to announce his proposals to further reduce pension and benefits obligations to state workers after scaling back promised payments into the pension system, but he did not issue specific solutions in his speech. And he did not address the state's Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for bridge and road repairs and is on the verge of bankruptcy.
Christie also did not mention the struggles of Atlantic City, where casinos have been shutting down.
He did call on lawmakers to lower taxes, saying that New Jersey's high rates are the main reason Mercedes-Benz announced this month it was moving its U.S. headquarters to Atlanta despite incentives offered by New Jersey.
"It is you, and only you, the state Legislature, who can lower taxes further and make New Jersey more prosperous for our middle class families and their children," Christie said.
Christie reiterated that he would not increase income taxes. He has repeatedly vetoed legislative bills that would have raised taxes on the highest earners in the state.
Christie continued with a theme he has repeated frequently: helping people who are addicted to drugs and eliminating the stigma they face. He called for better coordination of services for addicts.
He also reiterated his call for taxpayer funding for scholarships so low-income families can send their children to private schools, a concept that has bipartisan interest but has never made it through the Legislature.
In a sign of the interest in his remarks, the Democratic National Committee released a video Tuesday morning ahead of Christie's speech highlighting New Jersey's fiscal problems, including recent credit downgrades, and accusing Christie of putting himself ahead of the state.
"New Jersey Firstish," says the video.
After the speech, Democratic legislative leaders criticized Christie for not having a more specific vision for the future of New Jersey.
Republican lawmakers said the idea was for Christie to speak broadly in this speech but to give more specifics when he delivers his budget proposal in the next two months.
One line drew big applause from the Republicans in the state Assembly chambers but not from Democrats. "I will be standing here" next year, he said.