On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace grilled Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) on the negative ramifications his tax cuts for the wealthy have had on the state. Christie defended his record by noting that the state’s unemployment rate is now 6.5 percent — well higher than the national average.
Christie, who had earlier this week suggested his recent comments that he is “tired of hearing about the minimum wage” were misunderstood, also told Wallace that he does not “back off from those comments one inch.”
Noting that Christie’s approval ratings have dropped significantly in the Garden State, Wallace questioned his approach:
WALLACE: You’re taking some criticism now for the financial situation in New Jersey. You decided to cut payments to pension funds and instead of raising taxes on millionaires and businesses. The credit rating for New Jersey has actually been downgraded eight times your watch, and the polls in New Jersey show you with your lowest favorability rating since you became governor. What’s going on?
CHRISTIE: Well, first of all, Chris, you have to remember what we inherited five years ago — an $11 billion deficit budget, 10 years of consecutive tax increase increases at the state legal. This was an awful mess. And now, what have we done? We’ve had five balanced budget in a row, we’ve had $2.3 billion in tax cuts to businesses of New Jersey, 143,000 new private sector jobs and an unemployment rate that’s gone from 9.7 percent down to 6.5 percent We have work to do in New Jersey no question. But we’ve gotten a lot of things done over the course of the last five years and I’m proud of that record.
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Christie also boasted that New Jersey is now spending less in FY15 than it did in FY2008. But his approach of tax cuts for the rich and pension cuts for everyone else has not been effective for the state. While he takes credit for bringing down the unemployment rate, New Jersey’s results have fallen short of the national average. Indeed, New Jersey’s 2009 unemployment rate of 9.7 percent mirrored the national average — but the current 6.5 percent rate is 0.6 percent higher than the 5.9 percent rate unemployment nationally. Over that time, as Wallace noted, the state has had its credit rating downgraded more times than under any other governor in New Jersey history, and to the second lowest level in the nation.
While it is true that New Jersey has balanced its budget annually under Christie, he neglected to mention that the state constitution requires that every budget be balanced — as does nearly every other state government.