Gov. Chris Christie vowed to finish his term regardless of whether Mitt Romney wins the presidency and also addressed local energy concerns during a stop in Lacey Thursday for his 94th town hall meeting.
“I told you I love this job. I want to do this job. I made a deal with you. Four years that I want to stay with you in this job, and then we’ll see what happens after that,” Christie said. “I’m not going anywhere. You people are stuck with me.”
Christie, who addressed approximately 600 people at the Lacey Elks lodge on Beach Boulevard, vowed that if Romney wins the election, he would remain in New Jersey as he made a “four-year deal.”
'Seamless Transition' After Oyster Creek Closes
A Whiting resident voiced his concerns about energy saying that reports have shown that in the next five years 40 percent of cars will be electric. With Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station closing in 2019, the man questioned where New Jersey will be getting electric from and how prices will be controlled.
“I made the decision to close Oyster Creek because of what it’s doing in the Barnegat Bay,” Christie said.
Christie reached an agreement with Exelon Corporation to close Oyster Creek 10 years before its operating license expires. The Whiting resident's concerns would be on target if all he did was to plan to close the plant, Christie said.
Three new natural gas-powered plants have been issued permits to be built in West Deptford, Woodbridge and Newark, he said. The plants will “more than cover what we’re losing by closing Oyster Creek.
“It will cover what Oyster Creek was plus a little when they’re operational,” he said. “We’re ready to go.”
The three plants will create jobs during construction and as it operates as well as move the state away from out-of-state electric generation, Christie said.
“When you add the electric cars into it, I think 40 percent is very optimistic,” he said. “Even if it’s right, we’ll be ready to do it with these three new plants that are coming online.”
Before Oyster Creek closes, the new plants will be operating.
“You will see a seamless transition from the closing of Oyster Creek and the ramping up of these,” he said. “We had to do both. If we were going to make the decision to save Barnegat Bay, closing Oyster Creek plant, we had to supplement that electric generation.”
Christie added that 53 percent of New Jersey’s electricity comes from nuclear power, and PSE&G is in the process of determining whether the company will ramp up another reactor in Salem.
The governor's comments come a day after local and state officials addressed the regional community to brainstorm efforts to possibly also replace Oyster Creek with a new facility, perhaps powered by natural gas.
'You Should Trust Me'
Christie also addressed his ethics, education, taxes and middle-class reform agenda.
“I wanted to see Gov. Christie,” Norbert Danback of Forked River said. “I’m in favor of everything he says. I think he’s on the right track. The one thing I wish he would do is something about the taxes.”
Property taxes increased by 2.4 percent this year, which was the lowest in 20 years, Christie said. The state is working on closing loopholes under the 2 percent state budgeting cap, among other reforms, he said.
This year, changes to the pension benefit system saved Lacey residents 5 percent of money that’s being paid toward the retirement system and 22 percent is saved of the money going toward the police and fire pension system. Combining both those figures, more than $425,000 has been saved toward local property taxes, Christie said.
In addition, school aid was increased by $280,000 this year, he said. Between the aid and the changes in the pension benefit system, that’s more than $700,000 in property tax relief, Christie said.
“If you’re going to trust anyone to be fiscally responsible and to cut your taxes, you should trust me and not the legislative Democrats, and the record shows it,” he said.
Lori Aceto of Lacey said Christie’s talk on ethics reform and public employees not holding more than one elected position sparked her interest in her.
“I wanted to see him in person and see that his charm is true, and it was,” she said. “I wanted to see if I can envision him as president. I can."