January 13, 2010
Summary of the New Jersey State of the State Address
By Stateline Staff
Outgoing New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) told the Democratic-controlled Legislature Jan. 13 that he was disappointed he was not re-elected last November to serve a second term and that he hadn't done more to reduce property taxes.
"Let's call it like it is: everyone's property taxes are too damn high," he said in his fourth and final state of the state address. Corzine congratulated Chris Christie, the Republican who defeated him, and urged lawmakers to help the new governor "to do what's right, not for their party, but for our whole state."
Corzine said until property taxes would continue to be high in the Garden State "until we reform our state's antiquated structure for providing local government services, a home-rule system dating back to the 17th century."
Acknowledging "the elephant in the room," Corzine said he wished he could have done more "to address New Jersey's all consuming debt problem." His called his plan to sell the New Jersey Turnpike and increase tolls "controversial, unpopular, and yes, unsuccessful."
Corzine, a former Wall Street executive, said even if the state doesn't borrow another penny over the next decade for highways, school construction or open space, its debt will double because of the power of compound interest.
Despite that failure, Corzine said he was the first governor in six decades to cut spending two years in a row. The state workforce also was cut by more than 8,500 positions.
He called New Jersey a "beacon for progressive government" by ending capital punishment, tripling the number of housing vouchers, becoming the second state to implement a paid leave program for workers to take care of sick relatives, and just this week, passing legislation to allow the use of medical marijuana.
While the state approved an important civil unions law in 2006, Corzine lamented that the state had failed to approve same-sex marriage legislation.
Corzine also said he was proud during his term to have been able to help the vulnerable, by rebuilding schools, paying for preschool education for 50,000 children and providing health care for 100,000 children.