By David Cruz
On some level, as he was running for president, Gov. Chris Christie must have believed that the sometimes tedious work of meeting the State House press corps would be a thing of the past, but, of late, the governor has seemed to miss the attention, holding almost weekly press conferences on everything from changes at the MVC to the state’s business dealings with Israel. Today, it was a gathering to crow about the success of Medicaid expansion in the state.
“We’ve been able to decrease the state’s share of overall expenditures to 39 percent in 2015, down from 45 percent in 2014 and, as the Medicaid population has expanded, the overall average cost per beneficiary, due to our reforms, has decreased by 7.7 percent,” he reported.
The governor says the state’s uninsured rate has also dropped to 6.9 percent, down from just over 12 a few years ago. And that substance abusers, smokers, women and children at risk for lead exposure are all benefiting as a result of his prudent, strategic and conservative approach.
“I am for Medicaid expansion, as I’ve proven over the last two years, but I am not for Medicaid expansion at any price,” warned the governor. “The federal government has made a deal with us and we’ll keep our deal with them. If they decide to change the deal, then any governor who sits in that chair should have the ability to re-evaluate that plan.”
Another topic of much discussion today was the status of negotiations on the Transportation Trust Fund, which Christie says are back on this week. He met with Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto today and is expected to meet with Senate President Steve Sweeney tomorrow. So, progress?
“I guess we talked about a lot of good things today, a lot of things that I need to go and digest now to see where I could be OK with some of these things, then maybe come back and do a follow-up meeting on it,” Prieto said. “To me, I’m committed to do it as soon as possible.”
But when it comes to compromising, especially on tax cuts, on which the governor is insisting, the Senate president had something for the speaker and the governor to digest today.
“We went as far as we could with the tax cuts — $900 million. That’s it, so I don’t know where we go from here,” said Sweeney.
“I’ve never heard the Senate president say he couldn’t compromise in seven years, so, you say that he said that, he hasn’t said it to me,” countered Christie, “so if he’s negotiating with you, he’s definitely not going to get anywhere because you have no ability to do anything.”
He may not be answering questions about national issues and world crises, but the nitty gritty work of finding a way to fund the state’s infrastructure improvements does matter to a lot of people, and, while he’s still here, the governor insists that it remains his primary focus, no matter how much time he spends advising Donald Trump.