The State of Our State: Neglected

Governor Chris Christie delivered his sixth State of the State address Tuesday afternoon, and for anyone who was listening, it struck the tone of someone who is more interested in running for president than governing New Jersey. The tone of the speech underlined a simple fact. Under Governor Christie, New Jersey has been neglected. Residents know it. Legislators on both sides of the aisle know it. Reporters who cover the state know it. And Governor Christie knows it. In the face of this overwhelming surfeit of knowledge, the governor chose to double down on his neglect, meeting exclusively with national reporters and neglecting the New Jersey press corps who cover him day in and day out. And he did this for one reason and one reason alone: because his record of neglect is indefensible. New Jerseyans live with this governor's record of neglect every day. We know that the governor broke his word on pension reform. We know that our state lags behind all of our neighbors when it comes to job creation and job growth. We know net property taxes have skyrocketed under this governor. We have seen our state bond rating receive eight downgrades since Christie took office -- more than any other governor in state history. We know that our Transportation Trust Fund -- once a model for highway funding the world over -- is on the brink of bankruptcy, forcing at least two bridges to be shuttered for fear of collapse. And, more than two years after the storm, thousands of residents and businesses continue to feel Christie's neglect as they wait for Superstorm Sandy relief that they may never receive. These problems stand in stark contrast to the picture the governor painted Tuesday, where the biggest problem he saw was anxiety and most of the issues mentioned above were conspicuously absent. It's likely that he did not want to mention them because he has no way of solving any of them without alienating potential Republican primary voters in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. A slightly more jaded, satirical explanation would be that the governor didn't mention these problems because he legitimately doesn't know about them. And he doesn't know about them because he spent more than a third of 2014 -- 137 days -- traveling to anywhere that wasn't New Jersey. And if we posit that absence breeds ignorance and ignorance breeds negligence, then we can infer that the governor's extended absences directly contributed to his negligence. In fact, the governor seemed all too eager to prove this theory, traveling to South Carolina to rub elbows with Republican donors almost as soon as his Tuesday speech was done. After five years at the helm it's time the governor stops blaming others for our problems. It's time he comes home to do the job he was elected to do. If he can't do it here in New Jersey, he certainly can't get it done in Washington.