Corzine's Swan Song: Taxes Are High, Education Improved

By Brian Thompson and Victoria Cavaliere
|  Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010  |  Updated 3:55 PM EDT
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Corzine's Swan Song: Taxes Are High, Education Improved

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Jon Corzine is making his last stand.

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Outgoing New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine says the state has made great strides in children's programs during his term but conceded that "everyone's property taxes are too damn high."

Corzine, who leaves office Tuesday, spent a single term as the state's governor.  He said he has made strides in education, health care and welfare reform -- and he reminded the state it is not alone as it shakes off the recession.

"These are hard times," he conceded.  "For New Jersey, like other states, this means that tax revenues have fallen dramatically.  The financial strain on all states -- not just New Jersey -- remains severe," he said.
    
"These recessionary conditions date from the fall of 2007. In these circumstances, we've had to make choices that, in better times, we might have rejected out of hand."

He noted there are "hundreds of millions less" in the state's budget this year, but said that's not the largest problem the state faces.

"Until we reform our state's antiquated structure for providing local government services -- a home rule system dating back to the 17th Century -- we're never really going to get the job done," he said.

"If we truly want to tackle the age-old problem of property taxes, we have to embrace economies of scale and do away with our outmoded system for delivering local services," he said.

He also congratulated Republican Chris Christie on his win.  Looking ahead, Corzine said he hopes the state will eventually pass a gay marriage bill.

"Our nation, our state, are founded on the principle that all citizens have a right to equal treatment under the law.  Marriage equality is an idea whose time has come," he said.

Corzine admitted leaving office is "bittersweet."   At the Daily Deli in Carlstadt, New Jersey, owner Jim Lemanowicz said he's not happy with the job Corzine has done for the past four years, likely one reason out of 86,000 or so that explains the margin the Democrat went down to defeat by in last November's election.

"The one per cent sales tax killed everybody, all the tobacco increases killed everybody," said Lemanowicz at one of the small tables in the front of the business he's owned for 27 years now.

Lemanowicz, a father of four who still has one child in college and another heading that way soon, says he's not that much more optimistic that Christie will be able to do much better.

Corzine said he was disappointed to have only stayed in office for one term. "There's no point in denying what's obvious. Every governor wishes he could serve two terms," he said.

"God bless you all, God bless the people of the great state of New Jersey," he said.

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