Making his first public appearance outside the New Jersey statehouse since ending his presidential campaign, Gov. Chris Christie spoke Wednesday to a group of schoolchildren and teachers at a ribbon-cutting for a Newark school then left by a back door before the ceremony ended.
Christie praised the Schools Development Authority for completing the school a semester early and on budget. It was his first public appearance since he delivered his fiscal 2017 budget address to the Legislature on Feb. 16. Since then, the Republican governor has kept a low profile in the state.
It’s a sharp contrast compared with last year after his budget address, which included sweeping suggestions to change the debt-laden public pension system, when Christie embarked on town halls in New Jersey.
Ultimately, the Democrat-led Legislature rejected those changes and Christie went from battling with Trenton lawmakers to hitting the campaign trail in July. He spent most of 2015 out of the state.
Now that he’s back, Christie is pushing a $34.8 billion budget proposal with only modest changes compared to the 2016 spending plan. Those changes include a roughly $1.9& billion pension payment, accepted by Democrats, as well as a nearly $800 million surplus.