The Jersey Shore is known around the country — actually, the world — for its boardwalk shops, bustling beaches, and, thanks to MTV’s eponymous reality television show, big hair, orange tans, bar fights and drama, drama, drama! With Snooki and the gang in Italy for the season, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is stepping in. This week he toured the state’s beaches to highlight the shore’s economic vitality and natural beauty.
Last week, Christie signed legislation providing $650 million in no-cost and low-cost loans for projects to improve water quality throughout the state.
“We remain committed to protecting the environment here at the shore, not only because it’s part of who we are and how we grew up, but also because we know it’s key to the economic vitality of our state going forward,” Christie said at a press conference on the boardwalk in Belmar.
The Jersey shore provides 193,000 jobs and over $6 billion in wages, according to the governor’s office. It’s also one of the oldest tourist destinations — the Lenni Lenape American Indian tribe were known to summer at the shore in the 1600s.
Several people interviewed on the boardwalk on Thursday lauded the governor’s commitment to clean beaches and to cost-cutting in the state, but not everyone was thrilled with Christie’s decisions.
“I’m a high school teacher, what do you think my impression will be?” one woman scoffed when she was asked for her opinion on Christie, who has aggressively pursued cuts to the state’s school system. “Not a positive one.”
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The tradition of elected officials visiting the Jersey Shore goes back at least to the late 1970s, when then-Sen. Bill Bradley made the rounds. NJToday’s Michael Aron reports from Belmar, N.J.