New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said his goal is to erase the state’s chronic budget deficits by the end of his first term.
Christie, a Republican who took office in January, spoke to Bloomberg News after a speech to business leaders in Newark that was closed to the press. The governor declined to say how he would end the deficits.
“I don’t have a crystal ball,” said Christie, 48. “It’s my goal. It’s aspirational.”
Christie is campaigning to fix the finances of a state that has battled nine straight deficits. He cut more than $10 billion of spending to help close a $10.7 billion deficit without raising taxes in his budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. He faces a deficit of as much as $10.5 billion next fiscal year, the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services estimated in July.
Dennis Bone, president of Verizon New Jersey and chairman of a public-private partnership called Choose New Jersey, said balancing the budget would help convince the business community that state finances are stable and they won’t face more tax increases.
“New Jersey doesn’t seem to have its house in order as far as its financials, and businesses see the steps he’s taking right now to reduce and eliminate deficits,” Bone said of Christie. “It has a signal value.”
Businesses are pleased to have a governor talking about efforts to keep them here and help them prosper, rather than just viewing them as a source of tax revenue, said Kurus Elavia, chief executive officer of Newark-based Gateway Group One, which provides private security guards to area airports.
“Job growth is ultimately a private initiative, and finally we have someone to represent that,” Elavia said. “He’s on the right track. He needs the three years and probably more.”
--Editors: Stacie Servetah, Mark Schoifet
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