TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Republican Gov. Chris Christie has delivered on some of his promises over seven years, while some ideas have also fizzled and stalled. During his seventh state of the state speech on Tuesday, he’ll have a chance to offer more details about his last year in office, a final opportunity to boost his record-low job approval ratings.
Over the years he’s delivered on some promises made in the address to lawmakers, and failed to deliver on others: His promised to reform teacher tenure came through with the help of the Democrat-led Legislature, but a call for a cut to income taxes by 10 percent but the plan was never fully embraced by Democrats and failed to go forward.
A closer look at what Christie has promised and what happened:
2011’s biggest promises: Replace teacher tenure; Stabilize pensions by making public workers pay more for benefits, work longer hours.
What happened: Christie and the Legislature agreed on reforming the teacher tenure system, changing the required time from three years to four years. The overhaul also required a mentorship for the first year of teaching followed by yearly evaluations in which the teacher must be rated effective or highly effective.
Christie and the Democrat-led Legislature also agreed to pension changes including cuts to cost-of-living increases in exchange for higher pension payments in Christie’s budgets. But Christie reneged on the higher pension payments after the state’s revenues dipped lower than expected. Labor unions sued, but the state Supreme Court sided with Christie and ruled that it could not force him and the Legislature to make appropriations in the budget.
2012’s biggest promise: Christie proposed a 10 percent cut to the state’s income tax.
What happened: Christie sent the Legislature a down payment on a 10 percent income tax cut by including $183 million for the cut, but Democrats balked at implementing it because of concerns that state revenues wouldn’t cover the cost to the budget. The full cut was not made.
2013’s biggest promises: The speech came after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the state’s coast in October 2012 and with Christie promising the state would be back stronger than ever. He talked about keeping taxes low but didn’t unveil any new plans to cut them.
What happened: The Christie administration says it had to deal with some 365,000 homeowners in the aftermath of Sandy and that as of late 2016 about 7,600 owners are actively participating in the state’s main storm rebuilding program. In addition, the federal government has steered some $4.2 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding. Still, protesters who say they are still not in their homes criticize Christie. At a shore event around the time of the four-year anniversary of the storm this year, Christie’s speech was interrupted by protesters who shouted at him that they wanted to go home. Christie huddled with residents, took their numbers and promised someone from his staff would contact them. The Associated Press has asked if Christie has reached out but hasn’t heard back yet.
2014’s biggest promises: The speech came just as the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal was breaking in the news. Christie said that the administration would not allow work that needs to be done for the public to be delayed.
What happened: Since the speech, two former allies of the governor’s were tried and convicted of taking part in the scheme that sought to punish a Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie for re-election. Christie wasn’t charged and denied wrongdoing but the scandal played a part in a negative ad run by a super PAC during Christie’s failed presidential campaign, and the scandal likely played a role in Republican President-elect Donald Trump not picking Christie for vice president, the governor has said.
2015’s biggest promises: The speech came as Christie was weighing a presidential run and after his stint as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He put part of the speech that usually focuses on New Jersey issues into a national context, saying the country was beset by anxiety and that the nation’s leadership was marked by indecision. The speech was notable for its failure to mention the state’s imperiled transportation trust fund and Atlantic City’s economic woes.
What happened: Christie did eventually launch a presidential run, which failed after finishing poorly in New Hampshire. Christie’s administration didn’t act on legislation to take over the finances of struggling Atlantic City and to address the transportation trust fund until later in 2016.
2016’s biggest promises: The speech was sandwiched between campaign trail appearances for Christie, who was just weeks away from dropping out at the time. He called for eliminating the estate tax and for converting a shuttered prison into a drug treatment facility for inmates.
What happened: Christie’s presidential campaign fizzled and he returned to New Jersey to face a number of significant outstanding issues, including transportation funding. He signed legislation that phased out the estate tax while raising the gas tax by 23 cents a gallon and implementing a $2 billion-a-year infrastructure plan. The closed Midstate prison is set to reopen as a 696-bed drug treatment center for medium-security inmates by early April, according to corrections department spokesman Matt Schuman.
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