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Christie Promises Income Tax Cuts at Manchester Town Hall Meeting

Governor takes questions from residents in 13th 'Jersey Comeback' session of 2012

Republican Gov. Chris Christie touted his admittedly blunt approach to governing while promising to lower taxes and work with "right-minded Democrats" to complete the "Jersey Comeback" in a town hall meeting Thursday.

Several hundred residents packed an auditorium at the New Jersey Maneuverable Assets Training Equipment Site in Manchester for Christie's 13th town hall meeting of 2012. The crowd showered the governor with frequent applause as the conversation veered from local concerns to national issues.

"We are going to cut your taxes this year," the governor said. "We are cutting taxes because I promised you I would when I ran, and I keep my promises."

Christie said his chief priority this year is a 10 percent income tax cut, which he proposed as part of his $32.1 billion 2013 budget package. The cut, which has been criticized by some as benefiting the wealthy over the poor, has been promised for every New Jersey worker but Christie said Thursday he and Senate President Steve Sweeney still have to determine whether an across-the-board reduction is workable.

But he said his actions to restrain government since 2009 has put the state in a position to afford such a cut.

"Two years of tough action... has put us in the position where we can cut income taxes," Christie said. "In New Jersey, no one should pay higher taxes."

Christie repeatedly praised Sweeney, a Democrat, for his willingness to "put New Jersey first" in a bipartisan manner while slamming Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who he labeled a "partisan hack.

"I will not make any apologies for working with right-minded Democrats," Christie said. 

Bipartisanship is essential when working with a Democratic-controlled Legislature, Christie said. Although he would "never compromise my principles," he's willing to work with Democrats even though he knows "I'll never get everything I want."

Christie, a former Morris County freeholder, said he doesn't mind if people simply don't like him. "No one in this job should worry about being loved," he said, adding that he aims to be respected.

But almost all speakers Thursday in heavily Republican Ocean County showed respect and affection, with one calling him a "breath of fresh air" while another urged him to run for president.

Christie, who flirted with a presidential bid last year, waded into national politics when a speaker questioned what could be done to temper a contentious Republican presidential primary race.

The governor, who has endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, said it's "pretty clear" Romney will be the GOP choice and urged former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to bow out of the race.

"It's too important an election to fight amongst ourselves," Christie said.

Other speakers' questions were squarely local.

Point Pleasant Beach resident Marilyn Burke briefed the governor on the municipality's proposal to based on occupancy and the amount of time they want to stay open past midnight, which is up for adoption April 3. Burke, who is a frequent attendee at Point Beach meetings, labeled the proposal "extortion."

Christie wouldn't take a position on the proposal but said he "gets concerned about people who try to go beyond the (state-mandated 2 percent) tax cap by imposing other fees." He promised to instruct Richard Constable, the acting commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, to "go down there and interview the powers that be."

A Lakewood resident pleaded for "some attention to the roadways" after criticizing congestion on Route 9 as a "huge problem." Christie agreed and said he'll instruct James Simpson, commissioner of the Department of Transportation, to work on alleviating congestion on Route 9 in particular, a complaint the governor said he's heard from municipal and Ocean County elected officials, as well.

Christie's aides were repeatedly instructed to take speakers' contact information so he can get them answers directly from state officials such as Constable, Simpson and Bob Martin, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection. The governor said his office has directly answered 359,000 of 366,000 letters and emails received since he was in office.

A Whiting resident questioned why seniors, who made up the bulk of the assembled crowd, still have to pay taxes to fund public education. Christie sympathized but said any alternative to property taxes would not be easily implemented, requiring the state to "have a conversation" about how to otherwise fund schools and municipalities.

Manchester Mayor Michael Fressola praised Christie after the meeting, calling the town hall meeting "phenomenal.

"He did an outstanding job," Fressola said. "He answered the questions that were asked."

Christie said his direct style of governing earns him critics, especially among the news media, who want to "put him on the couch." But the former U.S. Attorney said he will not change his approach, which he said includes appointing and hiring staffers who are incorruptible.

"We are leading by example. You can be proud to live in New Jersey again, not embarrassed."

NJ resident April 01, 2012 at 05:46 PM
John - how right you are. People need to take a look at their income tax returns sent to NJ this year. 10% of what we paid would amount to very little. I remember when we had a decent amount given back in the form of a property tax rebate. Under this governor, my "credit" is just 1/3 the amount of the check we got every Nov. This governor is makes it sound like he cares. But, if you really look at his proposals and what he has done, the middle class is not on his list of people he most wants to help....Yet, many fall for his tactics. People hear 10% and think it is really something!
Keith Jensen April 03, 2012 at 02:53 AM
The ONLY way to truly reduce your taxes is by repealing the Abbott Ruling: yielding a 33% property tax cut. This story was qualified and covered by the PATCH. http://fortlee.patch.com/articles/fort-lee-republican-state-assembly-candidate-pushes-for-fair-school-funding And here are the facts: http://schoolfundingexposed.wordpress.com/fair-school-funding-2/
Property Taxed 2 Death April 03, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I voted for him and still like him, BUT that's fading because Christy has failed to do anything to help average people in NJ We need property tax reform NOW! we'll will be lucky to get enough from his income tax cut to buy a value meal at McDonalds once a month, while he and his cronies will save enough each month to pay the mortgage for a nice vacation home Apparently he's the same as fake phoney fraud Twisty Christy Whitman who gave the same tax cuts to millionaires and also ignored the property tax problem in NJ and left us with more new bonded debt than Florio's entire bonded debt and entire budged combined was when she took office! Savings for us will be almost enough to by a value mean at McDonalds once a month while they save enough to pay the mortgage on a nice vacation home. Do NOT be fooled tell Christy you want and need PROPERTY TAX REFORM NOW! along with EDUCATION REFORM both of which will require a shift in taxes from property taxes to a combination of increases starting with eliminating waste, cuts in what we pay for things like overhead road signs that cost the DOT Millions each for, but other states pay only $2500 each for, other easy cuts in all government spending for rent, equipment, supplies and other non salary expensis, income tax increases, a sales tax increase , etc. Tell Christy to stop touring the country to promote Romney, stop touring the world and stay here and devote that time and more to fixing the PROPERTY TAX MESS in NJ
Chris April 12, 2012 at 03:47 AM
I have owned property in wall for 23 years and my kids all go to private school. I have no problem paying for the fine Wall schools, the open acres programs, the bike trails, leaf pickup, etc etc etc, that make my property so valuable. Take a look at property taxes in Bergen, Rockland and Westchester. I do not need some nit wit to tell me to get my facts straight on this one, I have family that live in these counties and they pay twice the tax we do.
CC May 28, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I'm still waiting for my taxes to go down since he was voted into office. Bet if I were a millionaire, my taxes would have gone down, but , alas, I am just a poor person trying to make ends meet.

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