By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
Chris Christie made two stops in Lakewood today. At a 55 and older community he told a room full of residents he has kept his promises of four years ago — reformed the state’s fiscal affairs and put the brakes on rising property taxes.
“So we’ve now slowed down a train that was going 7 percent a year down to 1.4 percent a year and if we do things the legislature needs to do like shared services and fixing the holes in the property cap and getting rid of this ridiculous sick leave rule where people are getting paid for sick leave. We get rid of those, we’ll bring property taxes down,” Christie said.
For two years, Christie said he has tried to get the legislature to end the practice of municipal employees getting paid for unused sick days when they retire, a theme he pressed again today.
“You had 12 employees in Atlantic City who collected $2.2 million in sick leave payouts when they left, $2.2 million tax dollars, 12 employees. They call it a boat check. The people who get it call it a boat check and you know why. It’s the money they use to buy their boat when they retire,” Christie said.
This was technically a governmental event, essentially a town hall, though the governor’s office didn’t call it that. Christie’s second stop was a campaign appearance at a yeshiva for elementary school boys. He was endorsed by Vaad — a group of rabbis and businessmen — in this town that is half Orthodox. A reason they like Christie is that he supports school vouchers, which would channel students and funding into private and parochial or religious schools.
“We need all the private schools in the whole state of New Jersey to back the governor because he’s a man that stands up for private education,” said Rabbi Shlomo Kanarek, Lakewood Vaad leader.
“It should not be only those with substantial means can decide what’s best for their children’s education. All of the citizens of our state should be able to make that judgement themselves,” Christie said.
It’s no surprise that Christie would pick up the endorsement of Lakewood’s Orthodox Jews. He has visited Israel with several rabbis and his views on private schools, lower taxes and traditional marriage dovetail with this community’s.