"We Are Turning Our State Around," Christie Vows

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

    With unemployment inching down, Republican Chris Christie gave his first State of the State address to legislators while taking credit for the modest improvements he sees.

    "We still have much to do," Christie said, a phrase he could have borrowed from President Obama or many other past political speeches.

    Nonetheless, Christie said New Jersey is positioning itself to be a leader once again.

    "To show real change you gotta go in and show a little Jersey Attitude," he said.

    The so-called 'rock star' Republican who was in high demand before last year's congressional elections admitted "Some might say I have been too ready for a fight--that my approach has been too tough and too combative."

    But he went on to explain "I fight when issues are big--when it matters most."

    And then he said "I will always do what I said I was going to do."

    Among those in the Statehouse Gallery was controversial former Washington, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee--someone he called his friend.

    Christie offered few specifics other than to say when he introduces his proposed budget next month "It will be balanced and it will not raise taxes."

    But he also warned that New Jersey's pension obligations are unsupportable.

    "They will grow from $54 billion today to a staggering $183 billion within 30 years," the Governor said.

    To control that, he wants to "modestly" raise the retirement age for state workers, curb cost of living increases, increase employee contributions and finally "The state must begin to make its pension contributions."

    Former Governor Jon Corzine was able to make modest contributions in two of his budgets, but the state's obligation to pay into the employee pension fund has been mostly ignored since Christie Todd Whitman avoided contributions in order to cut taxes back in the mid 90's.

    Christie started his speech with a moment of silence for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of this past weekend's shooting at her campaign event in Arizona.

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY