Christie Highlights Bipartisanship, Dives Into Pension Fight

TRENTON (AP/Hamodia) -

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie used his annual State of the State address Tuesday to call for better drug treatment options and to highlight his work with the Democratic-controlled Legislature, while jumping head first into a fight with those lawmakers over pensions.

Christie told state lawmakers they have to keep working to get things done rather than pander to special interests, citing a vote Monday on a referendum that would require the state to make quarterly payments to its public workers pension fund.

Rabbi Aaron Kotler, CEO of Lakewood’s Beis Medrash Govoha, recited the invocation prior to the annual address.

Christie, a Republican presidential candidate, said Democrats would have to raise taxes to live up to their proposal to make the payments, calling on whoever voted for the change to raise their hands if they supported tax increases. None did.

“Do we keep working to get things done and to move New Jersey forward?” Christie said. “Or are we going to pander to special interests, and send New Jersey back to the bad old days?”

Senate President Steve Sweeney argues that making quarterly payments helps ensure the full amount required under a 2011 law will be paid.

Christie, who has spent a majority of his time the past year out of the state running for president, focused almost all of his speech on issues in New Jersey. He did take a brief shot at President Barack Obama, saying his State of the Union speech Tuesday night “isn’t a call to action, it’s a fantasy wish list by a president who failed us.”

The speech came as Christie’s campaign is gaining steam in the first-to-vote primary state of New Hampshire. Christie has picked up key endorsements, risen in the polls and become the focus of sharp attacks from rivals.