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Christie Defends NJ Record: ‘Inherited a Basket Case’ and ‘Made It Better’

New Jersey Governor and Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie defended his record in New Jersey by arguing he “inherited a basket case” and “made it better” on Tuesday’s “Hannity” on the Fox News Channel.

Christie said, “I’m fighting with the unions again to try to get pension– greater pension reform. I’m fighting to continue to cut spending in my state. Our spending is $2.3 billion less today than it was in fiscal year ’08.”

Christie admitted that New Jersey still has struggles, but those are because “we still have some of the highest taxes in America. I just passed a tax cut, a 50% increase of the EITC for our working families. But that’s one of the only personal tax cuts I’ve been able to get passed. I have vetoed five income tax increases and three corporate business tax increases from a Democratic legislature. So, we’re struggling because we’re more expensive. And, you know, I’ve made our government less expensive, but only the legislature can cut taxes. And they just have refused to do it. But, let me say one other thing about our economy. In — from 2001 to 2009 when the Democrats were fully in charge, we had zero net private sector job growth, zero net private sector job growth in eight years. In 2010 to 2015, we have now grown 198,000 new private sector jobs. So, we took a basket case and we made it better.” And pointed to the number of government-sector jobs he cut.

Later, he continued, “I’m the first pro-life governor since Roe v. Wade in the history of New Jersey, vetoed Planned Parenthood funding just this past week for the sixth time, out of the budget in New Jersey, and stood proudly as a pro-life governor, which we’ve never had before. Second, as I said before, spending is down. $2.5 billion over where it was in fiscal year ’08. We have cut $2.3 billion in business taxes, and helped to create 198,000 new jobs. We have the first ten year reform in 105 years, where now, in New Jersey, if a teacher gets a failing evaluation one year, or below average for two, they can be fired, fighting against the unions to do that. Pension and benefit reform, which has led to $120 billion in savings over the next 30 years. Sounds to me like a pretty conservative record. And that’s the record that I’ve had in New Jersey, and the record that I’m proud of.”

Christie was then asked about the state’s credit downgrades, to which he answered, “I inherited a basket case. And what we have now is, the state’s debt is under better control than it was before I was governor. And these rating agencies have now come in and said all of this is about the pension situation. And I’ve said we’ve got to fix the pension situation. We had one round of pension reform. And now we’re going to have the second one. I’m working at it. But, the fact is, the unions don’t want to do it, and the democrats in the legislature don’t.”

Christie concluded, “we’ve done a lot, by capping property taxes in New Jersey. You remember about property taxes in New Jersey, Sean, some of the worst in the country, they went up 70% in ten years before I became governor. In the five years I’ve been governor, they’ve gone up 10%, because we capped property taxes. We’re keeping costs lower in New Jersey. … I’ve vetoed five income tax increases, it’s the first time, in a decade, that New Jersey hasn’t had their income tax, or their sales tax increased.”

Later in the interview, Christie criticized the legislature for failing to relax the state’s gun laws, and maintained “I’ve done the things that we’ve been able to do to make it better.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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