Governor Christie Delivers 2012 State of State
Tax, Education, Corrections Reform Highlight Governor’s Second Address
Governor Chris Christie delivered his second State of the State address after a one week delay due to the tragic death of Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce. In it, Christie focused on what he dubbed the “The New Jersey Comeback” and credited bipartisan achievements such as property tax caps and public employee benefits reforms.
Moving forward, the Governor focused on Tax, Education, and Corrections reforms the Administration will be pushing in 2012. Perhaps the most ambitious, and surprising, of the three is his call for an across-the-board 10% cut in New Jersey’s income tax and restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit for New Jersey’s poorest. Christie couched the proposal as drawing a stark contrast between New Jersey and states like New York, Connecticut, Illinois and California, who have recently increased their rates. Since this initiative will obviously have an impact on the FY2013 budget, it is likely to dominate the political discourse during the first six months of 2012.
Christie’s six point education plan came as no surprise as it’s elements have been pushed by reform advocates for years. They include: tenure reform, ending the “last in-first out” structure for layoffs, increasing pay for teaching difficult subjects or coming to failing schools, prohibiting forced placement for teachers, increasing the numbers of charter schools, and offering tax credits for families in underperforming districts.
Finally, and most important to healthcare advocates, Christies proposed sweeping changes to our penal system. While his concept of denying bail to violent offenders should be expected of a former crime fighter, his transformational plan for how New Jersey should punish non-violent drug offenders represents real, 21st Century reform that should raise more than a few eyebrows in the medical community. Under the plan, funding for addiction treatment would increase and non-violent offenders would be diverted away from prisons and into alternative treatment centers. This closely mirrors plans previously endorsed by the Medical Society and New Jersey Psychiatric Association. Like tax reform, this will impact the State’s FY2013 budget, so legislation is likely to be debated early in the session. Read the full address.