TRENTON — Discounting the barrage of negative news about New Jersey’s fiscal picture — including an increase in the unemployment rate — Gov. Chris Christie today touted numbers that show the state created 17,600 new jobs in May.
The number represents 25 percent of all the jobs created in the country last month and the state’s biggest one-month boost in seven years, New Jersey Labor Department data show.
“All of the rooting against New Jersey’s comeback,” he said in a statehouse news conference, “all of the poor-mouthing that’s going on down the hall, purely for political purposes, once again has show by statistics from the Obama labor department, to be nothing but pure partisan politics.”
During the 12-minute announcement, he did not address a deal Democrats are expected to hammer out today that could make a tax cut contingent on revenue growth or another economic trigger.
He framed the state’s 0.1 percent uptick in unemployment to 9.2 percent as a good thing: “It’s another sign of how optimistic people are in this state. They’re regaining their confidence, they’re reentering the workforce, growing more optimistic about finding jobs again.”
He made no mention of a report released this week by the National Association of State Budget Officers that shows in the current year New Jersey is one of 13 states with lower-than-expected revenue collections. In addition the report shows Christie is projecting higher spending increases than any other governor in the country for next fiscal year.
Also absent from the announcement was the gulf between the Republican governor’s projections and those of the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services. The Christie administration expects a $705 million revenue shortfall, while the OLS expects collections to come up $1.4 billion short.
Instead, the Republican governor painted Democrats in the Legislature and former Gov. Jon Corzine with the same brush.
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“These are the same people, the people who presided over this Corzine-era jobless activity who now want you to trust them to be the deciders over how the economy is going and whether New Jersey is really in the midst of a comeback,” he said. “Incredible.”
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, chairman of the state Democrats, noted the state’s unemployment rate is now a full percentage point behind the national average of 8.2 percent, and lags behind that of neighboring states.
“His policies have had one goal and one goal only, to put him in position to run for national office,” he said. “They have nothing to do with making the live of the average New Jersey family better … It has everything to do with giving him talking points so that when he goes to CPAC or any other conservative organization he can thump his chest and say, look at me, I’ve got the credentials you need to consider me for national office.”
Yet Christie called Democrats “pessimistic.”
“I choose optimism about New Jersey and its people,” he said. “Instead of, like Assembly Democrats, rooting for failure.”
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