Governor Christie on MSNBC's Morning Joe Show, CNBC's Squawk Box, and Fox News America's Newsroom
JOE SCARBOROUGH: And I hear a lot of people say this, what New Jersey needs is higher taxes. Seriously. All these northeast states, the reason why storefronts are closing, Willie, in your hometown in northern New Jersey, because taxes aren't high enough. If you raise taxes even more, that will encourage more businesses -- oh, wait a second. It's just the opposite. I'm sorry, Willie. I didn't mean to interrupt you.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: I thought you were Jon Corzine there for a second.
WILLIE GEIST: That was an ad by the New Jersey Education Association, attacking republican Governor Chris Christie. He's facing criticism over proposed state budget cuts including $800 million to public schools and 1300 worker layoffs. But with new jersey facing nearly an $11 billion budget gap...
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Oh, good lord.
WILLIE GEIST: ...Christie is making what "The Wall Street Journal" is calling adult decisions in the face of a crisis. Here with us now, Governor the state of New Jersey, Chris Christie. Welcome back to the show, Governor.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Thanks Willie.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Governor, we have so many things to talk about. "The Wall Street Journal" this morning talking about Reaganism New Jersey Style. "If he's to survive the headlines about budget cuts and pull new jersey back to prosperity, Mr. Christie knows he needs to put the hard choices before the state citizens and speak to them as adults. He's doing just that. One reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger summed it up this way. "Finally we have a Governor who is as teed off as the rest of us at how government spending and taxes have skyrocketed over past decade. A good article to wake up to this morning from "The Wall Street Journal."
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Absolutely. I think it accurately puts it. We're just trying...
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Can you talk to New Jersey voters as adults? Does that work for politicians?
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: I think so. I don't think we have any alternative. You saw those numbers. $11 billion budget deficit and $29 billion budget. We've been pushing this problem under the rug for 20 years. It's time to deal with it.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Look at it. You've got a $29 billion and an $11 billion shortfall? How the hell does that happen in any state.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Well, how it happens is, you raise spending out of control over the last 20 years, spending an average 16% increase a year on the state level over the last 20 years and you raise taxes 115 times over the last eight years. So you kill your revenue base. You do the two of them, it's a double whammy. Spend beyond your means and then kill your tax revenue base by raising taxes 115 times in eight years. Then you're New Jersey.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: And...Mike. Seriously, we're talking about Greece. We're talking about California. I mean, this is our future as a country, as a state. If we continue to allow spending to grow 16% on average for 20 years, when are Americans going to wake up and realize these politicians that are passing out goodies are only killing them?
MIKE BARNICLE: What happens, you have to sit there every day, off of Joe's numbers that you live with every day, how do you whack at the state employees' pension system, your Medicare budget, you know, the teachers' salaries? How do you do that all at once?
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Well, listen. It's a big, big challenge. But we've already passed pension and benefit reform which no one thought we'd be able to get done. We got that done the first in the 60 days.
MIKE BARNICLE: What was in it?
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: What was in it was, every state employee and local employee has to contribute towards their health benefits 1.5% of their salary. And all new workers have a different formula that lowers their pension benefits as they come in. It's going to bend the benefit curve going forward in the future. We need to do more. But we've already started to do that in the first 60 days. And other costs that we have in the state, you just have to go after it and go after it hard. Local property taxes in New Jersey have gone up 70% in last ten years.
SQUAWK BOX - CNBC
JOE KERNEN: They are calling you Ronald Reagan in "The Wall street Journal", Governor." Actually it was a good piece. It goes over a lot of the things that you're up against. Number one, I guess we shouldn't be surprised when a union official says he wishes you were dead, right? What's going on with that situation?
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: This is just beyond the pale. I met with the head of the state teachers union yesterday and I said listen - you want to apologize, that's fine but walk the walk. That person, the head of the Bergen County Education Association should be fired. If a member of my staff had sent out an e-mail like that about the head of the state teachers union, there would have been protest up and down the state house. And I expect there not to be a double standard. And if they really want to have a constructive dialogue with the Governor, then if you have people out there sending out prayers for your death, I think that's not an example to setting for kids. Remember this, if a child had done that in a school, they would have been suspended at a minimum. There should not be a different standard for the head of these teachers unions than there are for everybody else in civilized society.
JOE KERNEN: It shows you what you're up against. Total state budget 29 billion and a deficit of 11 billion which you can see the problem there. There is a problem but if you try to cut anything with education, you know you're going to hear - you're hurting the children, Governor. You're hurting the children.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Well, listen, that's been an old song that is now just worn out. This is the fact of the matter. The $820 million in cuts to school aid that I proposed in the budget could be completely offset if the teachers union would accept a one-year pay freeze. Not a reduction. One-year freeze and would contribute 1.5% of their salary towards their benefits. Now, for the average teacher who makes $50,000 a year, that's $750 a year. Interesting to note Joe - their union dues compulsory a year are $730 a year that give the union $130 million a year in revenue. Maybe they should forego their dues for a year and get by on $130 million they got last year if they really want to help their members.
NEWSROOM - FOX NEWS
MARTHA MACCALLUM: What is your response to them when they say look you're cutting lunch aid, art teachers, all kinds of language programs?
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: My response is to them is that none of that would have to be done if the teachers union in New Jersey would be willing to take a one year pay freeze for this year and pay 1.5% of their salary for the full-time medical benefits they get, medical, dental and vision. That would save $800 million, and wipe out all but $20 million of our cuts and there would be no layoffs, no program cuts and, all of the stuff is about the unions greed rather than putting the kids first.
MARTHA MACCALLUM: Let's pull a full screen that I just mentioned, this was in a memo from the Bergen County teachers union and they said it was never supposed to get out and it was supposed to be an in-house little joke. Here's what they wrote. This is the teachers union in New Jersey...
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: This now goes beyond the pale and when you're sending out -- now that's the leader of the teachers union sending it out to the leaders of all the locals -- praying for my death. Now, I had the head of the state teachers unions in yesterday and she apologized and I said then fire the guy. Now if a member of my staff Martha had said that in an email about her, they would have been demanded his resignation but do you know what they wouldn't have had to wait. I would have fired him.
MARTHA MACCALLUM: What did she say when you said to fire him.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: No. And she left my office in a huff.
MARTHA MACCALLUM: All right, let's talk about how this all boils down and I was talking to actually to my son, who is 11 years old about this last night, because all the kids at school want to know, why are we getting the language program cut, how come the librarians will only be there four days a week next year. And I said, so much money was spent and now they're trying to find ways to get this money back and he said where did this money go, mom and I said let me ask the Governor. Where did it all go? We pay the highest taxes in the nation, why isn't there not enough money to run our schools.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Well because you have the teachers union demand 4 and 5% increases every year when inflation is at 1%. Most of them pay nothing toward their health benefits when they, full family medical, dental and vision, teachers get that, from the day they're are hired, until the day they die. and most of them --
MARTHA MACCALLUM: Which is really extraordinary, and just to reiterate that. The teachers and there are some teachers in New Jersey who do pay a small percentage, into their health care, correct.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Yes, the majority do not.
MARTHA MACCALLUM: Majority pay nothing. Zero. and you're are saying if they pay 1.5% of their salary, into their health care, that that would mean there would be no layoffs in the state.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Right, take pay freeze and 1.5%, would create $800 million in savings and that means there would be no layoffs and no program cuts in the schools. And they refuse to do it. Only 11 locals have agreed to the pay freezes, because the union's saying no.
MARTHA MACCALLUM: Is it the union bosses who are saying no? I mean if I asked the individual teachers in my school would you be willing to pay, and you said it is about an average of $750 per person and, if the teachers said I'll give back $750 and not take any pay raise this year you're saying there would be no cuts.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Right.
MARTHA MACCALLUM: Teachers feel that way or is it a union head decision.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: This is a union problem. This is a union boss problem, Martha, clear and simple. And here's the proof of it. If they're so concerned about the $750 a year the teachers would have to pay, you know their dues, they make every teacher pay are $730 a year.
MARTHA MACCALLUM: The same amount.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Just about the same amount. It raises $130 million a year for the teacher's union. How about they just try to get by on the $130 million they got last year, waive the dues for this year, and then they're teachers would be held harmless.
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