Since stunning the political pundits and national media with his victory last November over the state and national Democratic machine, New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie has been leading the state through a tea party revolution that has changed the fortunes of the state for many years to come.
After 18 years of Democrats running the state, during which time two governors were tossed from office for corruption and corrupt secrets, Christie inherited a pretty bleak mess. There were 115 tax increases by the Democrats over the past 8 years. The state had a deficit of $11 billion. Jersey had the highest property taxes in the nation and highest corporate taxes in the Northeast.
For the first time in decades Jersey lost it's leadership position for population gain and job development in the Northeast and the population of Jersey was actually dropping. State union pension and health care benefits, the highest in the nation, were crippling the state budget and out of control.
When Christie proposed his new budget with $11 billion in cuts the special interests for the unions spent millions of dollars in television ad campaigns misleading the public on the budget, clearly adopting the Obama strategy of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to influence votes on social policy issues.
Christie took his impossible fight directly to the citizens of all the towns in the state and the citizens gave him what the politicians did not have the guts to pursue, support for a major overhaul in the New Jersey budget.
In the end Christie overcame the odds and fierce opposition and got 99% of everything he requested in his budget and cuts. A $29.4 billion balanced budget was intact and even some prominent Democrat politicians put partisanship behind and supported the Governor's budget for the good of the state, people like Mayor Corey Booker of Newark, a rising star in the Democratic party.
For the first time in history all state employees and teachers will pay one and one half percent of their benefit costs, still far below the national average. Unemployment benefits will no longer be paid to workers who were fired for drunkenness, drug abuse or stealing from their employers.
As the Governor said, "New Jersey has changed and is now a contribution society, not an entitlement society."
With the huge budget and deficit victory and public support now behind him Christie has set his sites on a Constitutional cap on property tax increases of 2.5% maximum to stop local governments and school districts from their reckless spending habits and spiraling property tax increases.
Thanks to the relentless pursuit by the governor of his campaign promises to end the political nonsense and get New Jersey back on the road to greatness there is a very good chance the Garden State will be in full bloom again soon.
By the way, government belt tightening is not all the governor delivered, he also has lost 35 lbs. since taking office, another promise he made on national television.