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Gov. Christie Tackles Ethics Reform at Town Hall Meeting

Middle-Class Reform Agenda discussed in Howell during governor's 90th town hall appearance.

Under a banner touting a "Middle-Class Reform Agenda," Gov. Chris Christie called on legislators to enact a mix of reform measures and tax relief bills aimed at helping working New Jerseyans.

Along with ethics reform the governor also gave his opinions on lower taxes, sick leave and shared services reform at a town hall meeting at Southard School in Howell on Wednesday. As he has done in his meetings throughout the state the governor mixed humor, facts and opinion in getting his message across to the nearly 300 people in attendance. 

As part of his presentation, the governor discussed what he called his "zero means zero bill." The bill focuses on alleviating the burden of paying sick time to public employees who have not taken their allocated time.

"What's happening across the state is people are leaving public service and getting six figure checks when they leave," he said. 

The governor said in total more than $842 million has been paid to public employees, something he will be working to tackle for the future. "I thought the benefit for not taking sick days was not being sick," he said.

The governor said he presented an ethics reform bill to the Statehouse 736 days ago, with little movement from the legislative branch since then. In that time he pointed to several factors, including public officials who holding multiple government jobs, among the reasons for pursuing passage of the bill.

Christie noted that while other administrations have been mired in controversy and scandals his has been largely above the fray. "We are not in this for ourselves we are here to serve the people who have given us the honor of serving them."

The governor discussed shared services, mostly among the school districts. The topic fit the setting, as the building he was speaking was at one time an elementary school in Howell and now serves as a community center in a joint effort between the township, the board of education and the local Police Athletic League. 

With many municipalities struggling financially, Christie said his administration will continue to encourage shared services at the municipal and educational levels. "You save money with shared services but if you don't want it you'll have to pay for it yourself and take a cut in state aid." He added, "You make the choice, if you want to have your own you have to pay for it."

The governor also hammered home the need for lower taxes for residents and businesses. Christie said the state needs to find ways to be more attractive. "If we want to be competitive we have to lower our taxes," he said.

When taking questions from residents from around the area Christie discussed a variety of topics including fracking, autism awareness and education spending.

According to the governor's office, this was the 90th town hall meeting that he has held and was aimed to "urge the legislature to move forward on his middle class reform agenda, a set of overdue reforms to deliver relief to New Jersey families." 

Rick September 29, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Well Ben, Do these jobs have to be public sector jobs? Maybe if you and Will Smith and a lot of other people bought an American car rather than a Toyoda or Nissan there would be more jobs available.
Janet September 29, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Ric that shows how ignorant you are. For starters I own 3 American cars. Sadly, they are not that well made even though they cost as much or more than their competition. I guess that keeps me going back for repairs which creates jobs right. Tell me this, are the American workers making other cars for others in SC and other places not worthy? What about all the sales and service employees of the foreign car companies? When Obama turned GM into Gov Motors, how many dealerships, lives and jobs did he ruin? Is Chrysler still considered an American car company? Do you have an iPhone that was made in China? How come no one wants to bash Apple for where they make their products? Can you answer Ben's question on what the funding source for these jobs would be?
Ric September 29, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Uhh, Janet, you referenced the wrong person. You are actually responding to Rick with a K and not Ric. I mean if you are going to accuse someone of being ignorant at least make sure your comment is directed properly. PS: I stopped following this particular debate about a week ago so I have not a clue to what either you or Rick think, I mean nothing personal.
Janet September 29, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Sorry Ric I forget the K before. There is an honest difference between a typo and being uninformed ie ignorant to the facts. Have a nice day
Rick September 30, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Janet, Auto building was only an example. What I was saying was that if there are no private sector jobs such as auto factories, then any jobs 'created' must be government jobs which are funded by taxpayers. 'They' can only create so many of those jobs before they run out of tax dollars to pay the workers.

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