New Jersey Election 2011: The Key Issues

| November 7, 2011 3:27 PM | Updated: November 8, 2011 12:10 PM video

Although Gov. Chris Christie’s name won’t appear on the ballot, tomorrow’s election is widely expected to be a referendum on his performance in the two years since he promised to turn Trenton upside down. Here is a brief rundown of the key issues likely on the minds of voters eager to air their grievances in the polling booths on Nov. 8.

Gov. Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Even though he's not running this year, Christie's referendum is expected to play a large role in determining the outcome of the Senate and Assembly elections. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor.

Budget Cuts

Last December in an interview for CBS’ 60 Minutes, Governor Christie said that a “day of reckoning” had come for the state’s multi-billion dollar budget deficit. Christie slashed $3 billion in funding for education, public employee benefits, police and fire services, public health services, and more, angering unions and state employees across New Jersey.

Property Tax Relief

Earlier this summer, when Governor Christie signed a bill overhauling state employee benefit payment plans, raising the ire of unions, he heralded the occasion as “an important moment for the state of New Jersey, for its citizens, its taxpayers.” But Christie also warned that taxpayers won’t see the effect until late in the summer of 2012, and many homeowners in New Jersey are anxious for immediate relief.

WATCH VIDEO:

NJToday reports on the election, with an eye on Christie’s role. Video courtesy of NJToday.

ARC Tunnel

One of Christie’s highest profile cuts came in October of 2010 when he formally cancelled plans for a new commuter rail tunnel, known as the ARC Tunnel, under the Hudson River that would have doubled the number of trains running to and from Manhattan and New Jersey during weekday rush hours.

Unemployment

In September, New Jersey’s unemployment rate (9.2%) stood a full percentage point higher than the national average. Gains in the private sector were encouraging (32,600 jobs created since January, 2011) but have been cancelled out by heavy losses in the public sector due to Governor Christie’s $3 billion in cuts to public programs.

Redistricting

This year lawmakers in Trenton convened to redraw the map of New Jersey congressional districts following the 2010 Census. While the new district borders are supposed to be decided upon by a panel of five Democrats and five Republicans from the General Assembly and Senate, it was reported that Governor Christie made a surprise appearance at a closed door Apportionment Committee session in March. The move angered Democrats and Republicans alike, since redistricting is solely a legislative prerogative. On his way out of the session the typically exuberant governor dodged reporters, raising eyebrows. In the end, the Apportionment Committee could not agree on a compromise map, so the decision fell to a State Supreme Court tie breaker, Rutgers professor Alan Rosenthal, who selected the Democrats’ map.

Sports Betting

Gambling on sporting events is illegal in the state of New Jersey, but last week Governor Christie endorsed legalizing the pastime, explaining his willingness to work with legislators to make sports gambling legal in New Jersey if Public Question 1, a referendum on Tuesday’s ballot that would set the stage for legalized betting, passes.

Read more about the election at NJToday.

  • Politicalpony

    The Gov hasn’t gone far enough. But if he keeps it up, gets another 4 years and has a more conservative successor, the state might actually find it’s way back to a badly needed non union, smaller government. Union control is nothing more then socialism. Socialism has failed every time it’s ever been tried

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