Morning Joe   |  June 29, 2010

N.J. passes $29.4 billion budget

N.J. Governor Chris Christie joins Morning Joe to explain how N.J. legislature passed their budget on Monday night, closing a 37 percent budget deficit.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> unless we send the navy down deep to blow up the well, and cover the leak with piles and piles and piles of rock and debris, which may become necessary, you don't have to use a nuclear weapon by the way, i've seen all that stuff, just blow it up. unless we're going to do that we are depending on the technical expertise of these people from bp.

>> welcome to " morning joe ." joe scarborough with you, along with mika brzezinski . mother of the year, actually. mark barnicle is here. willie geist is here. you missed it last year, because you were such a good mother. but we were talking about how everybody we've talked to, you and i for about a month now, business leaders have all said, why don't they blow the well up.

>> just blow the damn thing up.

>> why don't they blow it up.

>> here's what worries me, that they won't, that they won't because they don't want to mess up bp's infrastructure so that they can make more money.

>> no.

>> blow the damn thing up right now.

>> the federal government gets about 20%, if i'm not mistaken.

>> i don't care.

>> this is what i'm saying though. they get like 20% of the money back to the federal government . that's a lot of money. and at some point you just start asking do they not blow the well up because that means loss of revenue, not just from this well, but they mess up the entire field?

>> we're kind of losing money right now every time thousands of galsens spew out.

>> sure. i hope the relief wells work. because if they do not, this is going to be the next step and then a lot of people are going to say, why didn't they blow the wells the first week?

>> i'm telling you.

>> we shall see.

>> with us now the governor of new jersey , chris christie . at the table this morning.

>> good morning.

>> we've got some big news across the country, across the world. but first let's start in new jers jersey . long time -- was it march that you proposed your budget ?

>> march 16th .

>> march 16th . you proposed a budget and you said -- you said, we're going to do business differently. new jersey averaged with the proposals 20% increase in spending over 16 years, something like that. 115 new taxes in new jersey over what --

>> eight years.

>> you said no more. we're going to balance this damn budget and we're going to do it without sucking more money out of new jersey families. last night you passed a budget .

>> 2:00 a.m .

>> 2:00 a.m . and you've been going through hell political hell, commercials run night and day . how much of your budget did you get?

>> 99.88%.

>> did you really?

>> yeah.

>> are you serious?

>> yes. yeah. listen, we closed a 37% budget deficit .

>> $11 billion?

>> out of a $29 billion budget .

>> that's sick.

>> and we passed it last night with bipartisan support. closed the gap, and now are going to move on to do the other things that we need to do. but it's a pretty big accomplishment by everybody who was involved in it. because, $11 billion cut out of a budget is pretty significant.

>> okay, so let's talk about the downside.

>> wait, wait, wait. i want to keep talking about the upside for one second.

>> okay.

>> because this is significant. we've said this quite a lot. right now we figured out we pay about 55% of every dollar we make living in new york city , to governments at all levels. we would all be living in connecticut right now if lowell weicker had not passed an income tax in 1991 . and i bring this up for one reason, because every time a poll significance gets in trouble, he taxes people. he takes more money from working-class and small business ' pockets and the newspapers say oh, that's a courageous thing to do. no, that's the easy thing to do. and you know what i am, i'm pissed off because i've been reading for 40 years the courageous thing to do when you suck running a state is to take more taxpayers' dollars. you did the courageous thing.

>> well --

>> and i hope more people start doing it. because there's nothing courageous about just raising taxes and costing americans jobs.

>> listen, new jersey had the worst unemployment in the region. 115 tax and fee increases over the last eight years and we buried ourselves. we killed the goose that laid the golden egg and last night was the beginning of the climb back out. because, we showed republicans and democrats, that we had four democratic votes for our budget in the senate and eight democratic votes in assembly for our budget , so it was a bipartisan effort. and we did it. and i think folks all over, you remember when i came here in march, there were democrats, both in new jersey and across the country who said he's never going to be able to do it. we'll close down the government if he doesn't have a millionaires tax. well, we -- we vetoed that tax. the veto was sustained. and we fixed the budget and closed the gap $11 billion and people said it couldn't be done, we did it.

>> so, mike, can you -- i want to underline this again because you've seen new england . drive through new england right now, i've got to ask mike a question and you can go negative. i just want to stop for one second. you drive through new england , and you know what? as i drive through, i love new england , but you know, as you go into every town, every city, if i could take a picture of something that right now symbolizes new england , as far as business goes, it would be the shuttered factory. whether you're driving through connecticut, rhode island , massachusetts, new hampshire, maine, take pictures of a shuttered factory, and its businesses that have fled because of high taxes and oppressive workplace rules.

>> well --

>> that simple.

>> that would be the front of the picture, the shuttered factories, the jobs that have disappeared. but in the background of the picture, quite prominent and would be the same in new jersey , i would imagine, a series of soft-shouldered people who have been so overtaxed over the years, and who feel strongly that they don't get the best bang for their buck from government, that they now have less and less faith in elected officials, and governments per se . that is the real problem.

>> there's no doubt you're right about that. that there is a sense among the public that we just can't do anything right. and whenever we do something wrong, we turn to them to get more money from them to fix what we did wrong. and so, that's why we committed ourselves to saying we're that going to raise taxes on anybody. and we're going to cut the spending that we need to cut, and this is not going to be finished just this year. we're going to continue to have to be at this, because we've been at it for 20 years doing it the wrong way.

>> people get hurt when budgets get cut. who gets hurt the most in new jersey ?

>> it's pretty equal. we made a 9% cut in the budget year over year. 9% reduction, every department was cut in state government . and so what we tried to do is to make sure we spread the pain as evenly as we could and that we had shared sacrifice among everybody. but everybody is going to take a hit on this. there's no doubt. but they know that we can't continue doing what we're doing. because we're burying our state .

>> mika ?

>> you had to raise fees. i mean you say everyone has to pay a price for this. and that's the bottom line , that's all i was going to ask you. i'm not going negative.

>> i wasn't worried.

>> mika supports 95% taxes. but there is a price to be paid for this. as other governors look at your state and look at the example that you're setting, tell me how tough this is on people, on people in new jersey , and on those who will pay the price to make this happen, to right the ship.

>> well, listen, it's painful. there's no question about it. i didn't come in and say, hey, everything's going to be fine, don't worry. see this is what the politicians have done before. on both sides of the aisle. republicans and democrats, don't worry, we're going to fix it and you won't even feel it.

>> right.

>> it won't hurt. it's going to hurt. it's going to hurt, there's no question about it. but what the public in new jersey now recognizes is that we couldn't go the same way anymore, because we were burying under our economy, and our kids' economy with the taxes that we continue to layer on the folks. they know this is the alternative. there's no good alternatives. this is the alternative that we had to do.

>> let me ask you about when you were here last time, you were talking about how state employees of new jersey , some pay zero into their health care benefits. zero percent into their retirement. when most of us pay about 20% of our salary into our benefits. they're paying zero. were you able to change that at all?

>> well, yeah, we passed the pension and benefit reform bill that says now all public employees have to pay at least 1.5% of their salary towards their health benefits .

>> wow. 1.5%.

>> listen --

>> that was radical. they killed you. they killed you. but how sick is it that we pay 20% and they're whining about paying 1.5%. 1.5% of their salary for a retirement, for health care . that's, you know, that is insane.

>> it is. but you know what? that's where we started. we were at zero and we've gotten them now to 1.5%. that's the floor. you know, individual municipalities, and other governmental bodies can negotiate something above that. but everybody, once any of their collective bargain contracts that expire that are currently in force, everybody's got to pay at least 1.5%. so we're starting towards the idea that it's a contribution society and not an entitlement society.

>> governor, we've heard recently from a lot of well-respected columnists, write writing columns or teaching at universities saying this moment in our economic history requires more spending and more taxes. we've got to keep pushing money into this. that's one philosophy. can you just lay out your basic philosophy ?

>> mine is we buried ourselves under all this spending and taxes and we need to free up people's own entrepreneurial spirit , free up their willingness and their desire and the incentive for them to work even harder to put more of their own capital at risk in order to grow private sector jobs. i just think that the model that we're seeing is a failed model. and we're going to -- listen, we're broke. you see it all over the news. that, you know, we are being hit because of how much debt we're under. there's no more money left to print. it's time for us to dig ourselves out from out of this hole. it's going to hurt. like i said to mika , this is not easy. it's not easy. but --

>> we don't have the money.

>> make no mistake, you're raising fees on, you're getting money somehow to make up for the deficit.

>> very little, mika . and we want to raise user fees . if people are going to access certain things in government they're going to have to pay for it. for instance we raised civil service fees.

>> people trying to find work, they'll have fees raised on them.

>> no, no, no. you're not. in fact, what we did, the only thing we did to change the unemployment, by the way our unemployment system which is 1.75 billion in debt, what we said is, we broaden the misconduct standards. so if you go to work drunk, if you go to work on drugs, if you steal from your business where you're employed, you can't get unemployment insurance anymore in new jersey .

>> oh, my gosh --

>> this is radical.

>> that is an attack on the entire " morning joe " staff and we resent that.

>> i apologize for that. but we've got to speak the truth.

>> we drunk.

>> we don't care if they drink a little bit after work.

>> what about taxing soda and junk food and cigarettes.

>> oh, no, let's not go there.

>> we already tax cigarettes.

>> good, do it more.

>> and soda and junk food . we're not going to increase taxes --

>> i think we need to --

>> instead of tea party i think we need to have a tobacco party.

>> do you know how much money you'd make?

>> listen. you see that's the way you and i look at it differently.

>> really?

>> you say you know how much money you'd make. i'd say do you know how much money i'd take. i'm taking money out of the economy. i'm taking money out of people's pockets because i've made a value judgment that you shouldn't drink soda.

>> not only are you taking money out of their pockets you're helping them get healthier.

>> i want them to get healthier. i'm getting healthier.

>> what's the talk?

>> really quickly, let me ask you, have those commercials, have we had, i remember in arkansas, a guy that running against blanche lincoln , they had some lady in arkansas, blanche is taking away my pills. and she's throwing me out in the cold.

>> counts her pills.

>> are you still getting those stupid commercials? governor chris christie wants to tie me up to a radiator? and watch me freeze to the floor. are they still doing that?

>> yeah, yeah.

>> they're idiots.

>> they are.

>> let me ask you something, are you getting help from the other side? are there other groups out there, i hope, that actually believe in free markets , and less debt, and less taxes? that are countering those ads? are they just leaving you twisting in the wind?

>> very little. very little.

>> do your job, you morons.

>> very little.

>> we've got a guy out here on the front lines .

>> joe.

>> we've got a guy on the front lines and he's got unions out there doing these stupid --

>> i think the governor's just fine.

>> you need to help out.

>> listen, at the end of the day , this is what we said last night after we did the budget . i sent out notices to all 120 legislators, at 4:00 a.m ., telling them that i'm calling them back, which i have the right to do under the constitution, i'm calling them back on thursday to deal with capping property taxes in new jersey . a constitutional cap of 2.5%.

>> you rock.

>> mandatory, they've got to show up on thursday.

>> you rock.

>> because i've asked them to come and we're going to stay and work until we pass a constitutional cap on property taxes .

>> i just may move to the garden state .

>> we're making it attractive, joe.

>> i just may move to the garden state .

>> can they come to work drunk on thursday, though?

>> they could. but if they get fired they can't collect unemployment anymore.

>> that will not happen here.

>> in other words they're not going to extend unemployment benefits in washington for people? what happens in places like newark where you have a high unemployment rate . what happens?

>> all over new jersey , not just in places like newark, mike, but in kind of the reagan democrat blue collar areas like in middlesex county where people are really struggling, that's going to be a problem. there's no question. these are hard choices people have to make all over the place. medicaid , and reimbursement for medicaid is an issue in our budget , as well. because medicaid costs are soaring with more people out of work and more losing their health benefits . but, everyone's having to make tough choices now. listen the federal government decides not to do that we're going to have to react and respond and try to protect the most vulnerable in our state . and we'll do that. and this budget protects the most vulnerable in our state . more money for charity care in our hospitals for people who access health care through hospitals. we raise that, we kept funding level for other health care issues because of that.

>> you know what, you keep attacking people that show up drunk at work. we just resent that.

>> i actually --

>> you're governor.

>> i've got to ask you one question, a couple people arrested in mont clair, accused russian spies out of a cold war -- you know anything about these people?

>> no, unfortunately, sounds like my old job when i was u.s. attorney . i would have been in the middle of that. now i don't get briefed about that stuff. i read about it when you did. sounds like the federal prosecutors are still doing a great job.

>> do you recognize this woman, governor?

>> no comment.

>> you got to ask.

>> all right.

>> okay, so you got to get -- we're going to have this fun run , this bipartisan fun run .

>> a bipartisan fun run in the fall. in washington, i want children involved. and we should do something in new jersey .

>> absolutely. keep talking about this.

>> listen.

>> we need to act.

>> listen i'm ready to go. since we first got together in december, i've lost 35 pounds.

>> all right.

>> that's attractive.

>> so a politician that keeps his promise to you, mika . all right?

>> how'd you do it?

>> you know, i got a personal trainer, i'm working out and watching what i eat.

>> you know what? that's great. seriously. you can be the best example for your state . keep going.

>> you're right.

>> we'll collaborate.

>> go get --

>> the children of new jersey .

>> i'm with you.

>> need to follow your example. children do it with us.

>> yes because he needs to lose about 30 pounds.