Those who listened to Gov. Chris Christie’s rosy State of the State speech might have missed some facts laid out in an editorial this morning: New Jersey has the nation’s second highest unemployment rate, the second highest foreclosure rate, 40 percent of young adults can’t afford to move out of their parents’ homes and our economy is stuck. Those conclusions in an editorial published recently by Congressman Bill Pascrell. He told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that New Jersey’s economy should be doing a lot better than it is and the next governor is going to have to work to improve it.
In his State of the State, Christie said, “The state of our state is going to get better.” Pascrell wrote, “New Jersey’s economic recovery has been a failure. We have to do better.” Pascrell said there is no question about it — New Jersey is third from the bottom in terms of growth since the recession. He said that the federal government has done something about it and there is better growth nationally now than President Ronald Reagan had in the eight years of his presidency.
“If you listen to those folks on the other side, which I call the dark side, you would think that we are ready to fall off the cliff. All the combined economies of Europe can’t match what America is doing right now. I’m very proud of our country. We have a long ways to go. A lot of people are still out of work, a lot of people aren’t making the wages they should be making. But we’ve have done a hell of a lot better. New Jersey should be doing a lot better,” said Pascrell.
Pascrell said that last year, Christie was only in New Jersey 42 percent of the time, about 152 days. “I like the governor, I like his spirit, but you’ve got to do things in order to get things moving along. They are not going to happen by osmosis, they’re not simply going to happen by the capitol market. Government has to be involved. He can’t solve most of our problems or all of our problems, we know that, but at least he could help and provide us those incentives which bring it back,” said Pascrell.
Pacrell said foreclosure rates coming down are positive indicators for the economy. But he said the state is still 100,000 jobs lower than when we started in terms of the recession and that puts New Jersey at the end of the line. He said that there are very few areas in the New Jersey economy that have improved and it will be the next governor’s job to bring the economy back up.
New Jersey has the highest tax rate already and a defunded Transportation Trust Fund. Pascrell said, “When Christie became the governor, he didn’t inherit a ball of gold here. He had a difficult situation from his predecessor. There’s no two ways about that. But you don’t make promises. But you don’t say, ‘We are going to be lowering this, and we are going to be lowering this property taxes.’ People’s property taxes aren’t going down in general. You know it and I know it. We have a 2 percent cap, we got a threshold on it, but there are a lot of things that are exempt from that threshold. Look, towns need help, the state needs help. I am at the federal government to try to provide whatever help we can give. This is a mutual effort from all of us.”
When asked how one makes a dent in the state’s unemployment rate because Congress can’t create jobs, Pascrell said 250,000 jobs were created last month. He said he doesn’t think that Congress directly created those jobs. He said he thinks that some of the policies of the Obama administration have had an effect. He said if that is taken away, both conservative and liberal economists would say that unemployment would increase at least 1.5 to 2 percent. He said all the problems can’t be solved, but something can be done.
“When you look at New Jersey compared to other states, we’re not going in the right direction,” said Pascrell.
There was an announcement that the Hoffmann-La Roche campus is going to be a new medical school. Pascrell said that will provide between 500 and 600 jobs. He said when the complex is completed, it will be a nice medical hospital where doctors and professionals will be taught. He said that medical professionals are needed because of the changes in health care and those people need to be servicing patients throughout the United States. He said that Seton Hall once had a medical school and it is coming back and joining with the Hackensack University Medical Center to open the school.
Pascrell said, “I’m very happy about this. Health care is one of my fortes and I am going to do everything I can to make it an easy transition there.”