Speaking in Indiana this week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, R, told a story about his inauguration day, and how his predecessor attempted to force him to raise taxes.
During the transition, Gov. Corzine assured me that I had a $500 million surplus in the state budget for fiscal year 2010 that was going to carry me right home to June 30 of 2010, and I'd be just fine. Well, the morning that I was sworn in as governor, we heard a rumor that Gov. Corzine was doing some stuff with the finances of the state on the way out, to give some presents, Jersey style, to some friends on the way out.
We heard that he was going to wire transfer a few hundred million dollars to some of the major cities of New Jersey so they could get the money before the Big Bad Wolf came to Trenton. And so I said to my cabinet secretary, as soon as I'm done with that oath, you get off the stage and you call the Treasury Department and tell them the new governor said, “Stop any wire transfers. No wire transfers, that's it.”
…We ran it like clockwork. Twelve noon on the dot, I took the oath….The Treasury Department told us that at 10:30 that morning, an hour and a half before the oath, Gov. Corzine had wire-transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to cities in New Jersey, depleting the funds of the state even more, as his last present to me on the way out. Two days later, I found out that that $500 million surplus was actually a $2.2 billion deficit. For the five months remaining in fiscal year 2010, 65 percent of the money was already spent. That was my “Welcome to Trenton” party….
The Democrats in the legislature, they were rubbing their hands…”This guy, he ran, he said he was going to cut spending, he's not going to raise taxes. He's going to have to raise taxes in the first couple of weeks, and he's going to have to do it to clean up the mess we've created. How sweet will this be?”
…The best thing about being governor in New jersey is that it's the most powerful governorship, constitutionally, in America. And so we impounded $2.2 billion in spending by executive order. And I signed that executive order quietly in my office without telling anybody — that's the great thing about executive orders — and I then asked for the opportunity to address a joint session of the legislature to talk to them about the fiscal 2010 fiscal crisis…
It was the shortest speech I've ever given in my life — it was about 15 minutes. I said, “Here's the deal. We've got a $2.2 billion deficit. You created it, you didn't fix it before I got here. I just fixed it by executive order. Have a nice day.”…They started calling me names. They started calling me Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte — all of those great leaders of the past. Men I deeply admire….The next morning, I come to the statehouse, and I'm looking at the newspapers on my way in in the car, and I see the leaders of the legislature calling me all of these names.
And you know, as you can probably tell, I'm a sensitive guy….