Governor Chris Christie on eliminating COAH
Governor Chris Christie continues to show real results in New Jersey. You can almost hear all the liberals in New Jersey screaming after the announcement by Christie concerning the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH).
The Roxbury Register reported on Christie’s appearance in Roxbury to talk about the effort to get rid of COAH:
“I said when I was campaigning that one of my first priorities was going to be to end COAH and to end mandates. and I know that the Highlands people were telling towns like Roxbury don’t build anywhere, while the COAH people were saying to build everywhere,” Christie said.
“Before the Senate right now is Sen. Bill One,” he said. “Under the terms of that bill, COAH will be dead. We promised that we would work hard to return the issue of affordable housing to the towns, and that is what I intend to do, because that is where it belongs,” he said.
Rilee volunteered that Roxbury’s current affordable housing obligation is 351 units, and Christie, very calmly, told the mayor not to worry about it.
“Forget that number. I am going to sign this bill, and we will hold a funeral for COAH. We will respectfully bury it and put it away forever,” the governor said, to cheers from the crowd.
He said COAH is the poster child of all unfunded mandates, but he also said his efforts, to date, have been largely bi-partisan, despite, he said, what is reported in the press.
“In the first 60 days, we have passed bi-partisan pension reform and benefit reforms, and I got this done working with a Democratic legislature,” he said.
“Those reforms will save billions of dollars over the course of the next 20 years,” he added.
“Today, we are working on a bi-partisan bill to get rid of COAH, and I hope to have that done by July 1. We will pass a budget this year that will eliminate the $11 billion deficit, which has come from years of fiscal mismanagement. Our deficit in New Jersey is higher than that of New York and of California. And, we will close this gap without tax increases,” he vowed.
“Look,” he said. “They say I’m combative. That’s what they write in the press all the time. I’m from Morris County, so you all know I’m combative and difficult, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t work with a Democratic legislature to get things done, and I have been,” he said.
“In this state, your property taxes have gone up by 70 percent over the course of the last 10 years,” he said. “This is an issue everybody cares about. Everybody is affected by this. Property taxes are strangling peoples’ ability to stay in New Jersey. It’s unfair to middle class families to have to struggle like this just to hold on,” he said.
“In every poll taken, in poll after poll after poll, the number one problem cited in New Jersey is property taxes. For 30 years, politicians have been telling you that they had the solution, and you have all been sitting around waiting for 30 years, as things have gotten worse and worse,” he said.
“This Cap 2.5 proposal puts it in your hands. It allows you to decide how to deal with property taxes. What I am proposing will put a constitutional amendment in place to cap increases at 2.5 percent in any given year. There will be two exceptions to get out of that cap. The first will be if there is debt service. You have to pay on back bonds, and we don’t want to see any municipality unable to pay its debt,” he said.
“The second way will be to let the people decide. That means you, the residents of Roxbury Township, will decide by a ballot question, if you want to go over that 2.5 percent increase,” he said.
“If the municipal government wants to exceed 2.5 percent, it goes on the ballot. And you vote on it. It’s that simple,” he said.
“And, if the town says it will offer a budget that is less than 2.5 percent, the town can bank that savings. It encourages the towns not to go to the full 2.5 percent. But, in the end, it’s up to you. We have been failing in this state for 30 years to fix this problem. This leaves the solution up to you,” he said.
Christie said the state of Massachusetts adopted a 2.5 cap 30 years ago. “They went from the number one highest property taxes to number 33, where they are now,” he said.
“It works. If you leave government unrestricted on spending money, we all know what happens. We all know what that government is going to do, regardless of whether its Republicans or Democrats. It happens. The Massachusetts experiment has worked great. They have the finest K-12 schools, and they have been living under a 2.5 percent cap for 30 years,” Christie said.
“It’s going to be about choices. We won’t be able to spend all we want to spend. And things like free health benefits will have to end. But, if we don’t get this under control, we won’t have the money to pay for things like pension obligations for police and firefighters. We have a moral obligation to fix this problem,” the governor said.
“I will also make sure that Cap 2.5 has the tools to empower mayors and councils to get the job done,” he said.