Published on Jul 3, 2012
Trenton, NJ, 07-02-2012
Thank you very much. Good afternoon, Lt. Governor Guadagno, Senate President Sweeney, Speaker Oliver, all the members of the Legislature. I take my constitutional powers and responsibilities seriously, as I know all of you do. When there are pressing matters that I believe must be addressed, it is my responsibility to call our Legislature into special session.
Giving the certainty of tax relief to our citizens and making our state more competitive with our neighbors in job creation—today—will allow us to put more New Jerseyans back to work this summer. What could be more important for us to do today?
Now, I know it's been a long year and I know over the last few weeks each of you have been working hard to bring this legislative session to a successful conclusion. And we did many great things together. But there is one greater thing left to do—lock in tax relief today that will help to create new jobs tomorrow for the people of New Jersey.
Over the last two years we've done something pretty unprecedented, not just for New Jersey, but for our country. Despite our differences, we've managed to buck the conventional wisdom and actually get things done.
Now, that doesn't mean we haven't disagreed. But in the face of those disagreements, we've shown that you can fight, you can argue and then you can still compromise and get things done.
You can do it when you decide not to care when the pundits, the media and the rest of the world tells you things have to be done in a certain way. In fact, when they tell you it has to be done in a certain way, it's pretty much a guarantee that we should do the exact opposite.
New Jersey and its people have never been one to blindly do what they're told to do. Our work over the last two and a half years is proof of that.
Yet, there are some who want to play politics as usual with this issue. Some believe that the old Trenton games that Democrats and Republicans have played over the years should be our game plan on this issue today. I reject that approach and so do many of you. Let's not give in to the ordinary—let's continue to provide bipartisan leadership.
Now just this year alone, we've accomplished some landmark reforms for New Jersey...together. We did it because in the end it didn't matter who the pundits say won or lost the political day, it mattered what we got done for the people of New Jersey.
• Now if you had told the old time political players in January that this Legislature would pass bipartisan teacher tenure reform for the first time in 100 years, they would have rolled their eyes. But, together, we defied expectations. And because we worked together and we put the substance of the issues first, a now significant tenure reform bill sits on my desk.
• When I spoke about the need to change our drug rehabilitation system based on the principle that everyone deserves a second chance and every life is precious, we put principle ahead of politics. We worked together to save lives and to make sure that people who need a helping hand, get it. The result is that mandatory drug rehabilitation for non-violent offenders is now a reality.
• The July 1st deadline for reforming our higher education system was deemed arbitrary and unachievable by members of the chattering class. It couldn't be done. So, what did we do? We proved them wrong again. The result is a historic reorganization of our higher education system that not only improves the system, but also makes us more economically competitive. Our state's future and the men and women who come here and who will stay here to seek an education and a quality, good-paying job are better off because of our bipartisan accomplishments with this reorganization and our higher education bond initiative. Where other leaders failed over the last 30 years, we succeeded and made it happen—together.
Since the beginning we've made the tough decisions together in a fiscally difficult environment to achieve historic pension and benefit reform, to cap property taxes so that New Jersey homeowners saw the lowest increase in property taxes this past year in two decades and to provide critical tax relief for job creators to invest, expand and come to New Jersey.
Whether it's the accomplishments of the last two and a half years, any of them, we've proven one thing: If we can make it happen in New Jersey, real leadership can make it happen anywhere.
So, now is not the time to stop the progress of the last two years. Now is not the time to change course and reverse our hard work.
This is a moment. But it's not a moment where we should take our cue from Washington, DC and begin emulating the politically shameful performances that we see down there. Washington, DC has been paralyzed because people talk at one another not to one another...