Christie warns of Democratic plan to raise taxes

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Gov. Christie ripped into New Jersey's judicial and legislative branches at a town hall meeting in Mercer County this morning, saying that if the state Supreme Court orders him to spend another $1.6 billion on education the Democratic-controlled Senate and Assembly may raise taxes to pay for it.

He told his audience to beware of some Democrats' suggestion that the possible additional school funding could be paid for by reinstating the so-called "millionaire’s tax." That tax would raise just $600 million, Christie said.

To cover the other $1 billion, he said, the Legislature would be “coming after you next. … If we allow tax hikes on anybody they’re going to want a tax hike for everybody, because there’s never enough money for them to spend.”

Christie suggested that Democrats might attempt to raise the sales tax, gas tax, and income taxes across the board, though legislative leaders have not publicly discussed doing so.

The looming Supreme Court decision stems from a lawsuit alleging that the governor's cuts of nearly $1 billion in education aid last year were unconstitutional. Christie has proposed restoring $250 million in the $29.4 billion budget he put forward in February.

As he often does, Christie derided the Supreme Court justices for being unaccountable and playing politics. He suggested that hospitals would close and police and firefighters would be laid off if the state were ordered to spend more on education.

The governor also showed disdain for what he called the “do-nothing" Legislature and unveiled a report card that graded its performance on key issues as “incomplete.”

According to Christie, the Senate and Assembly have failed to curb abuse of sick and vacation day payouts to public employees. Nor have they streamlined the civil service system, passed laws requiring government workers to pay more for their health and pension benefits, strengthened ethics rules or made it easier to reward good teachers and fire bad ones, he said.

The Legislature, where all 120 members are up for election in November, has only 65 days to pass his "tool box" proposals before it recesses, Christie said.

And “unlike last year, when they actually came back in the fall to do something, this year they won’t because this year they’ll be out asking you for your votes,” he chided.