Issue Position: Spending
Chris Christie is committed to fix New Jersey's spending problems as he will cut wasteful and inappropriate spending, hold government accountable and implement bold, common-sense solutions.
KEY PRINCIPLES OF CUTTING SPENDING
Change The Way Trenton Budgets
Chris Christie will prioritize the state's funding commitment, requiring an assessment of which programs are most important, and which ones are working most effectively.
All budgeting processes will involve public input into measuring the real value of all programs.
The Christie Administration will end the traditional practice of providing automatic incremental increases across the board, or requiring across-the-board cuts in programs. Across the board increases and cuts are an ill-informed and an inefficient method of deciding what programs deserve increases, decreases or funding at all.
All Spending Programs are on the Table
Chris Christie will insist that all spending programs and every budget item are on the table and discussed before funding is agreed upon.
Veto Wasteful Spending
Chris Christie will make full use of the Governor's office right to shape legislative and budget policy, including the power of absolute veto, conditional veto, and line-item veto.
Unlike past administrations, Christie will make full use of the line-item veto to end wasteful spending.
Any inappropriate and wasteful spending, included in the annual Appropriations Act or in supplemental appropriations legislation, will be vetoed.
End One-Shot Revenue Gimmicks - Rely Only on Recurring Revenue.
Reliance on federal stimulus aid, which is unlikely to recur, is not the solution to balancing future state budgets.
Our state government must get its fiscal house in order by depending on recurring revenue, reducing spending, and making the structural changes necessary to get the deficit under control.
Chris Christie will require that the government is able to and will rely only on recurring revenue.
ESTABLISHING AND EMPOWERING FISCAL WATCHDOGS
Elected Independent State Auditor
The current State Auditor, Controller, State Commission of Investigation, and various incarnations of Inspectors General appointed by this and prior Governors and Legislatures have been ineffective in rooting out waste and inefficiencies, and protecting taxpayers.
The fragmented approach of many oversight agencies with varying degrees of responsibility is contributing to the very lack of oversight.
Chris Christie will propose an independently elected State Auditor to handle standard annual audits of accounts and funds.
In addition, the State Auditor would conduct regular Performance Reviews on all state programs, as well as local governments and school districts, to ensure that they are performing their intended purpose with respect and care for tax dollars.
Special Prosecutor to Recover and Recoup Wasted Funds in Various Programs.
Until there is an elected Independent Auditor, Chris Christie will appoint a Special Prosecutor to conduct a thorough audit of these programs and seek reimbursement, where appropriate, of mis-spent funds.
Those private sector companies who bear responsibility for mis-spending or overspending, in the School Construction program or other state programs, will be barred from state contracts in the future until they provide restitution.
Taxpayer Advocate - To Eliminate Wasteful and Inappropriate Purchases
Chris Christie will appoint a "Taxpayer Advocate" in the Division of Purchase and Property
The role of the "Taxpayer Advocate" will be to audit all government purchase orders to make sure they are for essential items.
At the appropriate time, this function would later be transferred to the independent elected auditor.
IMPLEMENTING BOLD NEW BUDGET PRACTICES
"Sunset" Provisions For All New Programs after 4 years.
Chris Christie will require a "sunset" provision on new programs and expansion of existing programs after 4 years.
The goal of these provisions is to force a meaningful consideration of whether or not the program is currently fulfilling an important public service, or simply existing to serve an imbedded bureaucracy.
Christie will veto spending for any new or expanded program in the budget that does not include a "sunset" provision. He will conditionally veto any new legislatively-created program or expansion of an existing program that does not include a "sunset."
There will be a requirement that the law creating or expanding a program include clear and precise performance measurement standards so that the results of the program can be evaluated at the end of the "sunset" period.
2/3 Majority Vote to Impose New Tax, or to Increase Existing Tax
More than 100 new state taxes or fees have been increased or enacted by the Legislature since 2002.
Chris Christie proposes a State Constitutional Amendment to require a 2/3 majority of the State Legislature to impose any new tax, or to increase an existing tax.
This proposal will not require a 2/3 majority vote to adopt a state budget - only legislation imposing new or increased taxes would require the 2/3 majority vote.
Recently, our state government has been prone to tax-and-spend and this amendment would be a major structural change needed to reduce that spending and prevent future tax increases.
As part of the Constitutional amendment, Christie will support language to ensure that voters were able to reaffirm the amendment again five years after initial passage.
Eliminate Political Patronage
For far too long, both political parties have used state government as an employment office to reward friends and supporters.
Chris Christie will end this practice and ensure that the government once again works for the people of New Jersey instead of for special interests in Trenton.
Lower Overtime Costs
Chris Christie will reduce the number of state holidays and eliminate those not recognized as federal holidays.
Cutting these overtime costs will make government less costly for the taxpayers of New Jersey.
A Unitary System Approach to Collective Bargaining
When it comes to fair public employment policy, compensation, and benefits no one speaks for the taxpayers - the Christie administration will.
The Christie administration will take into account the realities of today's economy that New Jersey taxpayers cannot afford to pay for generous compensation and benefits, in many cases more generous than they themselves receive as private sector taxpayers.
New Jersey's current fragmented approach to state public employee relations --- separate statutes governing health benefits, different antiquated civil service rules, and the collective bargaining agreements --- should be changed to a unitary system where our workers' legitimate rights and benefits are negotiated in good faith through collective bargaining.
A single, unitary approach to state public employee compensation, benefits, and work rules will ensure efficiency, lower cost, and will provide greater management flexibility.
This reform will end "forum shopping," wherein the unions can lobby the Legislature for benefits that they couldn't get from the executive branch.
Old regulations need to be replaced or simply abandoned, allowing the negotiated contracts and the forty years of modern labor laws to govern. Changing civil service law to give managers greater control would allow for the introduction of modern fair evaluation and reward systems to be applied while eliminating the archaic work rules and reduction in force regulations.
Christie will end pension abuses starting by the removal of more than 300 political appointees who are a part of the pension system by virtue of being paid to attend monthly meetings of boards and commissions of which they are members.
Close defined benefit plans for new employees will be replaced with defined contribution plans. Fairness and common sense says we should bring public employee compensation and benefits in line with employees who have defined contribution plans, such as federal government employees.
The Christie administration will eliminate pension and health benefits for all part-time employees and political appointees. Currently an employee who only receives only $5,000 annually must be enrolled in the state's public employee pension plan. Only full-time employees should qualify for a public pension.
Require all new state hires and state employee retirees to contribute to their health insurance costs.