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Gov. Christie Uses The Environment To Bash Public Workers

Groundhog Day on “Regulatory Relief” – Echoes First Official Act: Executive Order #2

Christie campaign veto record didn’t mention legislative veto day before speech

Christie's first Inaugural, Jan. 19, 2010

Christie’s first Inaugural, Jan. 19, 2010

In one of the more despicable and hypocritical moments – and there were many – of his State of the State address, Gov. Christie used the environment in a divisive way to bash public sector workers:

Because none of that [public employe pension] spending is guaranteed by the Constitution.  All of those issues; education, health care, crime, our environment, support for the poor, protection for our children would be subject to elimination to pay for the pensions of 800,000 current and former public employees. 

… We cannot deny funding for health care, education, criminal justice, the poor, our environment, our children and our infrastructure to pander to pensioners.

I don’t know whose environment the Gov. was referring to in his ironically cruel but correct characterization of the collective nature of “our environment”.

It’s always comical when right wing, market fundamentalist, anti-government ideologues try to frame “collective” public goods or common pool resources with possessive personal pronouns like “our”. And it always begs the same question: Cui bono?

Contradicting his collectivist characterization of “our environment”, Christies’ administration has waged a war on “our environment”, making Governor Christie the worst Gov. in modern history on the issue of protecting public health and the environment.

That horrendous legacy is magnified by Christie’s: policy denial of climate change; dismantling of NJ climate change programs; diversion of over $1 billion of clean energy funds; roll back of NJ’s renewable energy goals; failure to honor his promise to develop offshore renewable wind power; slowdown on expansion of solar power; promotion of construction of new fossil power plants and pipelines, including one through the Pinelands; attack on Obama EPA’s Clean Energy/climate plan; and total lack of any new environmental accomplishment over his 6 year tenure.

In just the most recent examples of Christie’s war on the environment:

  • the day BEFORE the Gov.’s State of the State address, the Legislature moved to veto a massive 936 page overhaul by DEP of regulations that provide protections from flood risks (along the coast and inland rivers and streams) and NJ’s few remaining streams, lakes, and rivers that provide “exceptional” water quality.

We all know that Christie micro-manages the Port Authority (is there an email bragging: “time for some pollution problems in Newark”?), and that the Port asks Christie’s permission before flushing the toilets.

While building on his horrendous legacy and ignoring environmental issues, the Gov.’s unusually long 50 minute speech used the word “environment” exactly 3 times – twice to attack public sector workers and once to pledge “regulatory relief” for Charter Schools:

This is what I heard. Charter schools in New Jersey have been successful in spite of our regulatory environment – not because of it. 

The Gov. attacked regulations with fervor:

Instead of giving charter schools the autonomy they need to deliver great education outcomes, we’re regulating them using almost all of the same regulations that apply to traditional public schools. It’s not good for innovation and it’s not good for attracting more innovative charter school operators to our state.

Today, I’m announcing that my administration will aggressively prioritize regulatory relief for charter schools.

The policy of “regulatory relief” echoed that exact same regulatory policy Christie established by Executive Order #2, his first official act as Governor, taken in the first hour of his first day in Office.

For immediate relief from regulatory burdens, State agencies shall:

EO#2 even pledged three distinct forms of “regulatory relief”: “immediate” “intermediate” and “long term”.

Finally, again playing to the Republican primary voters of New Hampshire and Iowa, on the day of his SOS address, the Christie campaign bragged that Gov. Christie’ 400 vetoes had never been over-ridden by the Legislature.

Funny, he didn’t mention the legislative veto the day before the speech.

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