NJ's next governor says he'll veto higher taxes

AP News
Posted: Nov 06, 2009 6:17 PM

New Jersey's next governor vowed Friday to veto any tax increase the Legislature sends to his desk in the coming year.

Chris Christie said New Jerseyans already face severe economic conditions; he pledged during the campaign not to make their financial problems worse.

The Republican faces a projected budget deficit of $8 billion when he takes office.

Friday's announcement came after the government released unemployment figures that showed the national jobless rate topping 10 percent.

Christie campaigned against tax increases. He renewed his campaign promise after speaking in Toms River to group of Ocean County mayors who complained about state regulations.

Christie carried the Republican county by a wide margin in Tuesday's election. He beat Gov. Jon Corzine by more than 2-to-1 in Toms River, Brick and Middletown and won overall by more than 100,000 votes.

Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno heard an earful from the eight suburban mayors, who complained that state bureaucracy is both inefficient and costly.

Christie said his first executive order as governor will be to freeze requirements the state has imposed on towns but has not funded. A Guadagno-led task force will review the mandates with an eye toward getting rid of the most onerous ones.

Meanwhile, Christie promised the mayors relief from affordable housing mandates and said he would overhaul the Department of Environmental Protection to make the agency more user-friendly.

Christie also promised the mostly Republican mayors that he would apportion aid and homeland security funding to cities and towns fairly, not based on party or politics.

"I'm not going to play the same game that was played in the past," Christie said.

His pledge followed complaints from Republican Sen. Robert Singer, who is the mayor of Lakewood, that politically connected Democratic strongholds like Newark get discretionary aid while Republican-led towns do not.

Christie's visit to Toms River was made on his third day on the road since winning election Tuesday. He visited a charter school in Newark on Wednesday, and greeted merchants in Woodbridge, a traditionally Democratic town that he carried by nearly 2,000 votes, on Thursday.

Christie also said he talked with Corzine about providing money from a discretionary fund for the gubernatorial transition after it was discovered that the Legislature had not appropriated any money for that purpose in the current budget.

Christie said he couldn't yet estimate his inaugural costs, but said he wouldn't spend more than Corzine spent four years ago. The Democrat scaled down his inaugural compared with events held by his predecessors.