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." 

Cardinal September 22, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Republicans just killed the Veterans Jobs Bill that was paid for, now vets from Iraq have to wait until spring for the law to come up again, shameful ! Vote out the do-nothing Republicans !!!!!!
Ric September 22, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Donna. When it comes to snarky comments, neither of us can cry foul on the other. To us the film is stupid. But the Muslim fundamentalists just like fundamentalist in any religion, are using this as an opportunity to stir up the masses. Like the lamebrain attempts of Westboro church at the funerals of our fallen. I am not saying I think the Muslim reaction is fair because it isn’t. What I am saying is the president is trying to diffuse the tension in Pakistan before more Americans get killed over that stupid video – in the same manner that Dubya & Rice would have done. I am going to ask you again, what would you recommend our president to do in Pakistan? What workable options do you see? Is it just putting America into another war? As I mentioned to you earlier, I am a history buff. I studied the birth and spread of Islam. Mohammed had no problem in murdering his opponents and either marrying or selling their wives. He had nothing in common with the message of Jesus Christ. I also favor us getting out of saving the world. We should be like China, India and Russia and make money not war. If god wants to save the world, he has enough angels already up there with him to do his bidding.
Rick September 22, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Obstructionist? The Senate version of 'Obamacare' was named for Ted Kennedy because he had been pushing for something like this for about 40 years. Even though for most of those 40 years both houses of Congress were controlled by Democrats he couldn't get enough support for it. Remember during Clinton's first term Hillary, as the head of Task Force on National Health Care Reform, pushed for a health care bill in a Democrat controlled Congress.
Spooner September 22, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Al Franken was sworn in July of 2009 to the US Senate. Kennedy died a month later. Brown sworn in Feb. 2010. So you had about 8 months of Democratic control of the filibuster. . .not the two years that the right propaganda machine likes to tell us?
Spooner September 22, 2012 at 01:38 AM
I think you got things a little confused. Social Security funds the Federal Govt. . .been doing that since LBJ borrowed SSI money to fund the Vietnam War? Now yous want to spin it as an entitlement?
Cardinal September 22, 2012 at 02:09 AM
4 Republicans helped write the Veterans Jobs Bill & then they refused to vote for it because of purely partisan reasons! Republicans are making veterans wait for help, show the Republicans the door now! Americans are sick the Republican charades, antics and games they've been playing with procedural rules blocking virtually every effort to help America. Vote the Do-Nothing Partisan Republicans Out, they're more loyal to their party or their club than they are to America !!!!
Mike September 22, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Im a vet and I find it sickening that after 2 years of doing nothing the Democratic controled Senate suddenly decides to push through a bill with the false pretext of "we care about vets" when it's all about playing political games with vets with less that 60 days till election day. The DNC is a total disgrace
Rick September 22, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Mr/Mrs/Ms Spooner, The distribution of the Senate during the 111th Congress was Majority Party: Democrat (57 seats) Minority Party: Republican (41 seats) Other Parties: 1 Independent; 1 Independent Democrat And by the way, neither the majority or the minority "control the filibuster", whatever that is supposed to mean.
Mike September 22, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Ohh look now Tonto suddenly cares about vets When it fits his political agenda that it
Spooner September 22, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Ric- don't understand your last sentence: "control the filibuster", whatever that is supposed to mean... You don't acknowledge the political legislative tool used in the Senate called a "filibuster"? My understanding is that it gives the minority teeth when it comes to legislation that they oppose...No? In the 111th Congress I believe the Republicans used the cloture rule over a 100 times. . .the magic minority party number being 41 members, and as you indicate...was the number during that Congress most of the time. . .But with the election of Franken... ...the passage of the health care reform bill became an anomaly. . .if it was not for the fact that for a brief period between Franken’s certification(he was sworn in July 7, 2009) and Scott Brown’s as the new senator from Massachusetts, almost exactly seven months later, the Democrats had the sixty votes needed to invoke “cloture,” i.e., cut off debate and bring any measure to the floor. . .I think today they call it ObamaCare.
Donna Griffin September 22, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Spooner - "Here is an interesting summary of the Roosevelt Administration's brief in the Helvering vs. Davis Supreme Court case which established the constitutionality of Social Security. It would seem to suggest that the position of the Roosevelt Administration, in order to win that case, was that Social Security is not an entitlement, and that "it can be taken away at will." This is at odds with the popular conception Americans have of the program. This historical basis for Social Security, of course, could potentially have enormous implications" and the modern perception is readily accepted as being that of an "entitlement."
Rick September 22, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Social Security wasn't started as an entitlement program but it seems people today think it is. It also was never planned to be a person's entire retirement program, but many people today think it is. In fact, Social Security was never supposed to work at all. It was started in the 1930s when we were in the middle of a depression and the goverment needed money. So they came up with Social Security. At the time they told workers that if they paid in one half of one percent of every paycheck, when they reached age 65 the government would give them back some money every month. The problem was that the life expectancy in 1940 was 62 years. OOops!! And most people understood that it wasn't all they would need to live on when they retired. If they didn't have a pension plan, they saved for retirement. By the early 1960s when people had been paying into this for 20+ years the life expectancy had gone up to 69 years. So more people were living long enough to collect. Now, the large number of baby boomers is starting to retire and living a lot longer. There isn't going to enough money in the system to cover everyone. Remember that one half of one percent? That was one cent on every ten dollars earned. In 2012 that rate is 4.2 percent for an employee and another 6.2 percent from the employer.
Spooner September 22, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Donna- the drafters of the SS legislation in 1933 were well aware of the Supreme Court challenges, but using Justice Roberts argument in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, they used the same foundation to get around it. Actually back then, the idea was revealed to the Secretary of Labor, Francis Perkins by Supreme Court Justice Brandeis via his daughter and her husband, who were both economist at U of Wisconsin and involved with drafting legislation for Unemployment Insurance there. But that presented problems for them with other states, who would gain a competitive edge over Wisconsin. The solution was found in a 1927 Supreme Court case: Florida vs. Mellon, having to do with inheritance taxes. Florida had no inheritance tax, so people would file residence there and avoid the tax. Other states began to complain. The solution was a Federal Inheritance Tax. Florida sued the Federal Govt. and Florida lost. The Court ruled that Congress's power to levy taxes was virtually absolute. . .
Rick September 22, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Spooner September 22, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Donna- don't quite follow you with respect to Helvering vs. Davis. Are you equating welfare as defined there, being an entitlement? That's not what the Court said... ...Congress may spend money in aid of the "general welfare." Constitution, Art. I, section 8; United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1, 65; Steward Machine Co. v. Davis, supra. There have been great statesmen in our history who have stood for other views. We will not resurrect the contest. It is now settled by decision. United States v. Butler, supra. The conception of the spending power advocated by Hamilton and strongly reinforced by Story has prevailed over that of Madison, which has not been lacking in adherents... So are you one of the adherents that they refer too that oppose the welfare delineation they list there? ...and your right about Congress can change. . .the Court said...The discretion, however, is not confided to the courts. The discretion belongs to Congress, unless the choice is clearly wrong, a display of arbitrary power, not an exercise of judgment. This is now familiar law. [p*641] When such a contention comes here, we naturally require a showing that by no reasonable possibility can the challenged legislation fall within the wide range of discretion permitted to the Congress...
frank rizzo September 22, 2012 at 06:38 AM
donna griffin i,m sure your vet husband and other vets in your family are thrilled that the gop republicans just blocked $1 billion in funding for our vets. funding for their care suicide and post traumatic stress counseling as well as job training programs . republicans are very good at sending americans into unfunded wars but not so hot on taking care of our troops when they get home. in all republicans have spent more money in negative obama ads than they do on our soldiers. as far as the prime minister of israel meeting obama the pm said he would be in new york at the un the day after obama will be there. i,m sure if israel's prime minister wants to meet obama a trip from new york to washington is easy to do. at the present moment theres a lot going on in this country right now and a week long trip to israel by this president would have interfered with this prez being at andrews air force base to recieve the bodies of our u,s ambassador and 3 other brave americans. i guess it was just genius on the part of bush to release sufyan qumu from gitmo in 2007. they now have found out he was the mastermind in the libya attack on our embassy.
frank rizzo September 22, 2012 at 06:44 AM
as for you blaming obama not christie for new jersey's unemployment why is it christie is presiding over the 4th largest unemployment rate in the country.? funny how the governors with the lowest unemployment rates arent blaming obama. and now according to the firm that downgrades our credit ratings they estimate nj will get a downgrade under christie's policies. in other republican news bain will ship the jobs of factory workers in the midwest sensata technologies will have their jobs shipped to china in november. they even have to train their chinese replacements. romney and bain great for american jobs. (if youre chinese).
Dentss Dunnagun September 22, 2012 at 08:57 AM
Frank ,President Romney will see to that the Vets will be well taken care of .
Will Smith September 22, 2012 at 03:54 PM
As if to underscore Mitten$ RMoney's indifference to the 47 percent, his Republican Party colleagues in the US Senate used a procedural vote yesterday to block a $1 billion bipartisan bill that would have given tens of thousands of jobless military vets (dismissed by Mitten$ as "moochers") the opportunity to work. Inspired by President Obama's State of the Union Address challenge to get veterans working, the Veterans Job Corps bill would have created a program to fast-track 20,000 former military service members into federal jobs as law enforcement officers, first responders, and parks workers. You know, the kind of jobs RMoney's gang said they wanted to help "create" The legislation "was one of the few pieces of legislation to make it through Congress, which has been mired in partisan gridlock for the last two years. Forty Republicans succeeded in blocking the bill Wednesday afternoon, Chief among the bill's attackers was Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee. "Americans don't trust us," he said. "And why should Americans trust us when we keep using gimmicks and budget sleight of hand to hide more spending and drive the country further into debt?"
Rick September 23, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Right! Create yet another bureaucracy with a bunch of high paid Obama Cronies to create more government jobs. You seem to be very anti Romney because he has a few bucks more than most people. Did you have the same problem with John Kerry in 2004? “They” would fast-track 20,000 vets into jobs? Are these jobs that already exist and they can’t find anyone else to apply for them?
Mike September 23, 2012 at 12:44 AM
As a Vet my vote is for President Romney
Rick September 23, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Do you think having the highest population density in the country have something to do with the unemployment rate? Or having more jobs to begin with than other states might have something to do with it?
Deborah Stevens September 28, 2012 at 01:49 PM
@Dewey,Obamacare has not completely gone into effect yet. It goes into effect in 2014, this is when everyone must carry health insurance, just like you carry auto insurance, once everyone is contributing the cost is then truly shared by everyone, be it by them paying for the insurance or the tax penalty. Don't you realize your rates are so high now is because you are paying for the people who do not have insurance and go to a hospital have treatment and just walk away from their bill. This is why an aspirin in a hospital is $5.00, The hospital compensates their losses by increasing the costs for everything.
John Jay September 28, 2012 at 02:07 PM
You want to put veterans back to work? Start ending foreign "aid" support and corporate welfare. Invest our tax money in AMERICANS.
Ben Dover September 28, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Will I am all for putting veterans into these jobs. Can you tell me what the funding source is to pay them and are these long term jobs or one time stimulus funded gimmicks?
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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