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TRANSCRIPT: 'Inside the Koch Brothers' 2011 Summer Seminar' - Gov. Chris Christie's Keynote Address (Intro by David Koch) | Pg. 2 of 6

[For the full story on this transcript, see
Part 2 of our exclusive special series at
Mother Jones.]

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Keynote Address
As introduced by David Koch
Koch Brothers' 2011 Summer Seminar
Ritz-Carlton Beaver Creek Resort - near Vail, Colorado

Audio recorded June 26, 2011
[PART 2 - Appx 10 mins]

Transcribed by Emily Levy for The BRAD BLOG

< PREVIOUS | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | NEXT >

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (CON'T): And so, what's happened in New Jersey? You may know that I inherited a 2.2 billion dollar budget gap in my first couple of months on the job. So this budget we were in the midst of, the one that Jon Corzine left me and told me it was just fine. "Chris don't worry, all is well," as the door hit him in the rear end on the way out. [laughter, audience member is heard saying "hope it hit him hard"] And in my first week on the job, my first week on the job my Treasurer came to me and showed me the cash flow analysis for the State of New Jersey. And I said to him, not being an expert in reading cash flow analysis like a number of you in this room, "What does this mean when the line goes below that other line?" [laughter] "here in March?". And he said to me, "Well, Governor, what that means is in March the State of New Jersey will not be able to meet payroll."

I inherited a state, the second wealthiest state in America, per capita, that was not going to meet payroll in the second pay period of March. So you can imagine the Democrats in my state were gleeful. They had stuck me with this problem and now they all were announcing, "Well, he's going to have to raise taxes, 'cuz there's only five months left in the fiscal year and you can't cut enough spending in five months to make up that gap, so…Oh, poor, poor Chris. He's gonna have to raise taxes. And he's going to have to come to us to negotiate it."

And the good news for all of you and for me is that the governorship in New Jersey is the most powerful constitutional governorship in America. And so I went to my folks and said, "Listen. We've got to fix this problem but I do not want to deal with those people down the hall." [laughter, scattered applause] And so they told me, "If you declare a fiscal state of emergency, you can use your emergency powers as Governor to impound 2.2 billion dollars in planned spending and balance the budget. And you can do it by executive order." I said, "Man, I love this state!" [laughter, scattered applause]

So, I went in my office, all by myself, and set up the executive order and I signed it. But I thought it would be rude for me not to go down and tell that co-equal branch of government what I had just done. [scattered laughter] So I asked them for a joint session speech. And we went down there to give our joint session speech, and I basically said this: "You left me with a 2.2 billion dollar problem. You want me to raise taxes. I'm not going to. I just impounded the money by executive order. I fixed your problem. Thanks, have a nice day." And I walked out. [laughter followed by applause]

Well, you can imagine the disorientation [laughter] and the furor of the New Jersey state legislature after I left. And you heard the leadership of the legislature saying all kinds of things. Nasty things. About their Governor! Saying, comparing me to Napoleon Bonaparte! Julius Caesar! All those great heroes of the past that I admire so much. [laughter]

So the next day, as it turns out, myself and the Senate President, Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, we walk into the State House at the same time. I have a newspaper with me and he had called me Julius Caesar in the paper and King Christie. And so I was walking in and I said, "You know, Steve, you've convinced me. You've convinced me, you know, with these things you said in the paper. Maybe I was wrong. So here's what I'm going to do for you. I'm going to go upstairs, I'm going to vacate that executive order, and let you guys fix the 2.2 billion dollar problem." This'll say everything you need to know about the governor, government I inherited in New Jersey. Here's what he said: "Heheh…Governor, wait a second, don't overreact." [huge laughter] "All things considered, we think you did pretty well." [more laughter] "This is politics, man. Calm down."

We then moved forward to our next fiscal year, and we had an 11 billion dollar deficit on a 29 billion dollar budget. Thirty-seven percent deficit. Five percent, it's the highest deficit of any state government in America. And now the Democrats were really ready. They said, "Okay, listen, 2.2 billion, fancy little trick with the executive order, but this is 11 billion dollars. He's gonna have to raise taxes."

And so they decided, they had a plan. They were gonna raise what in New Jersey we call "The Millionaires Tax." Now, I wanted caution you first, for those, I know there are a few of you here from New Jersey, you know this, but I caution you first about New Jersey math. [laughter] See, we have a "Millionaires Tax" in New Jersey. But the New Jersey "Millionaires Tax" applies to anyone, individual or business, who makes over $400,000 a year. [laughter] That's called New Jersey math. [more laughter] And, what's great, I say to people all over the country, "If you're not a millionaire but you want to feel like one…" [laughter] "…come to New Jersey! We'll tax you like a millionaire even if you're not one!" [laughter continues]

So, we have this 9% tax rate, of people who make $400,000 or more. They wanted to raise that to 10 and ¾%. And they told me, when I announced my budget, "Governor's budget's dead on arrival if it doesn't include a 'Millionaire's Tax'. We will close down the government unless he signs the 'Millionaire's Tax'. We will close the government on July first. This will not move forward."

Now, this had happened four years earlier with Governor Jon Corzine. They had fought - see, this is way Democrats fight about it - they were fighting about how much to raise the sales tax, and they couldn't agree on how much to raise taxes, so they closed down government because they were arguing about how much to raise taxes. [some laughter] Only in New Jersey.

And so a lot of the same folks who were in the legislature then were still in the legislature. So I felt as a courtesy that I'd call 'em down to let them know that the place was under new management. [laughter] So I said, "Listen, I heard all your talk about closing down the government. Now listen, I know what Corzine did four years ago." See, Corzine held a press conference. And he rolled a cot into the Governor's office, and he said - (sorry, I'm going to have to do this because this is kind of the way he talks) --- [lowering his voice and speaking slowly in imitation of Corzine's voice] "I will not, I will not leave this office until this crisis is solved. I will sleep right there in that cot until this crisis is solved."

So I said, "Now, I know he did that. But let me tell you guys what's gonna happen if you close down the government. If you close down the government, I'm not movin' any cot into this office and sleepin' here. I mean, look at me. I ain't sleepin' on a cot!... [laughter] …In the governor's office!" [broad laughter, talking, and applause] I mean, public service is about sacrifice, but not that much sacrifice. [laughter]

I said, "What I'm going to do is I'm going get in those black SUVs, I'm going to leave with the troopers, I'm going to go to the Governor's mansion. I'm going to go upstairs, I'm going to order a pizza, I'm going to open a beer and I'm going to watch the Mets. [laughter] And when you all decide to reopen the government, give me a call, but I am not raising taxes. That's it."

So what happened? They send me the tax, and that Senate President I told you about, Steve Sweeney, he walked it down to me, with the cameras following him. Now, my mother taught me good manners. If you have company coming, you put your coat on, you go and greet them. So I came out in the outer office to greet the Senate President who came to bring me the bill. And you know, I forget what the heck they called it? You know they never call it "The Millionaire's Tax", they call it the "Fairness and Justice for All of New Jersey Act", you know? So, like they're hoping maybe to throw it by me, you know? "Oh, well I'm for Fairness and Justice! Sure. Where do I sign?" [laughter] Ya know? I don't know what the hell they called it, but they called it somethin' other than "The Millionaires Tax", and he came down and he presented it to me.

And I looked at him and I said, "Steve, stand here for one second. This isn't gonna take long. Sit down." So he sat down, the cameras are all goin', and I just sat down in a chair right down in the outer office and I took out this pen and I vetoed it, and I handed it right back to him. And I said, "Take this back where it came from, 'cuz I ain't signin' it." And that was it. That was the end of it. [applause]

They tried to override the veto, the Republicans sustained my veto, and then they passed a budget with 99.8% of the line items exactly as I had presented to them in March, the one they said was dead on arrival, and we balanced the budget without any new or increased taxes on the people of New Jersey. We fixed an 11 billion dollar budget deficit by doing what the public sent me there to do: Making government smaller, cutting wasteful spending and even cutting some programs that we like, because there's one simple truth: we cannot and should not spend money that we don't have. And that's what we did in New Jersey. [applause]

[NEXT: "Beat the bejeezus out of him" and "A true bipartisan coming together"...]

< PREVIOUS | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | NEXT >

* * *

[For the full story on this transcript, see
Part 2 of our exclusive special series at
Mother Jones.]

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