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Governor Christie On Bipartisanship In New Jersey

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Published on May 16, 2012

Town Hall in East Hanover on Thursday, May 16, 2012. (Transcript Below)
Governor Christie: And we did this video that some of you may have already seen that's out there where I did a video with Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, and we made fun of two things in the video. We made fun of all this stuff about me running for vice president of the United States, and we made fun of Booker running into that building and saving the woman during the fire. And so we tried to switch roles. I was looking for somebody to save and Booker was on the phone with Mitt Romney trying to get a new job. And it's gotten a lot of attention around the country today after we put it out last night at the event. And it was funny and it was meant to be funny and Cory is a friend and we had a good time doing the video together. You all know Cory is a Democrat and the reason why I bring that up to start off today is it's kind of emblematic of the way I've been trying to govern in this state over the last 2 ½ years.
Now there are plenty of things that Cory and I disagree about from a policy perspective. He'll stand up and fight for the things that he believes in and you all know I'll certainly stand up for the things that I believe in as well, but it doesn't mean that we can't work together. It doesn't mean that we can't find a way to do the job that you all sent us to do, which is to get things done. We have too much in politics today of people who are posturing, and preening, and posing, and sending out press releases. They think that's what their job is. All you have to do is look at Washington, DC, right? They can't get a thing done down there and everybody's at fault. Everybody's to blame. People have to reach across the aisle and start working with each other, finding common ground.
When I called Cory asking him to do that video with me he said yes right away, and that doesn't happen overnight between Republicans and Democrats. You have to build relationships, and it doesn't mean that you're going to compromise your principles because I won't, and have not compromised my principles in the time I've been Governor. But there also is, as I've said many times, a boulevard between compromising your principles and getting everything you want. You all in New Jersey have decided to send me a divided government. A Republican governor. A Democratic state Legislature. You're very funny. I really appreciate it. But that's what you decided to do. And so I can't just sit back and say well, I'm going to sit in the corner here and hold my breath until you put people in charge of the Legislature who I agree with. We'd get nowhere. We'd still be in the same shape we were in 2 ½ years ago. 117,000 lost jobs in the year before I became Governor. Unemployment rate over 10%. 115 tax and fee increases in the eight years before I became Governor. The highest-taxed citizens in America according to the Tax Foundation. Just a mess. $70 billion in wealth having left the state in the four years before I became Governor. 70 billion in wealth left. That's what partisanship gets you. That's what being unwilling to compromise will get you, is people standing in the corner staring at each other where one party dominated pursuing policies that were bad for our state. So I'm not going to make any apologies for working with Democrats. That's my job. I've got to work with people who I don't agree with on every issue. But it's my job to find the issues we do agree on and to force compromise where people don't think compromise is possible.

So how do we do that? What's the evidence that we've actually done it? Two budgets now that we balanced with significant deficits going into them without raising taxes on the people of the state of New Jersey for the first time in 2 ½ years. A cap on property taxes of 2%. A cap on interest arbitration awards of 2% that drove those salaries. We're finally reforming the pension and benefit system so that we can make sure the pensions are there for our police officers, our firefighters, our teachers, our other public workers, but at the same time not bankrupting our citizens in the process. So we passed historic reform, the biggest reforms we passed of any state in the country, saving $132 billion over the next thirty years, and making those pensions stable once again, so they'll be there for the people who have worked and earned and planned their retirements based on it. I didn't do that by myself. I did it with Democrats, with Democrats like Steve Sweeney and Sheila Oliver. Brian Stack, Sandy Cunningham, People in the Senate and the Assembly who were willing to put aside partisanship and say you know what? The Governor's right on this, and we've got to do it. That only happens because you're supporting them. I can guarantee you that. Because you know, those guys down in Trenton, one of the things they're expert at is polls...

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