Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Chris Christie’s keynote address to highlight New Jersey accomplishments

Gov. Chris Christie recently presented a $32.9 billion budget for fiscal year 2014 to the state Legislature.
Gov. Chris Christie recently presented a $32.9 billion budget for fiscal year 2014 to the state Legislature.

Few people know exactly what Gov. Chris Christie is going to say when he delivers the keynote address tonight at the Republican National Convention, but one thing seems certain: the governor will be talking up the Garden State.

Although he won’t be uttering the phrase "Jersey comeback," Christie is expected to highlight what he considers some of the accomplishments made in New Jersey since he’s been in charge.

So, while PolitiFact New Jersey waits for the governor’s primetime speech, we’re revisiting some fact-checks dealing with three subjects touted by Christie in the past.

Check back here later for our fact-checks of Christie’s keynote address.

Job growth

Whenever the governor discusses the state’s progress, Christie usually points to the job growth since he took office in 2010.

Last month, Christie received a True for claiming, "We created as many jobs in the first six months of this year as we did in all of 2011 and 2011 was the best single year for private-sector job growth since the year 2000."

For that fact-check, we strictly examined whether the numbers were correct, not whether Christie's policies deserve credit for them.

At the time Christie made that statement, the state had gained a total of 39,600 jobs in 2012, surpassing the 31,100 jobs gained in all of 2011. Also, New Jersey added 33,400 private-sector jobs last year, marking the biggest gain since 2000.

But in two previous claims, Christie misstated how New Jersey ranks nationally for job creation.

In February, the governor claimed private-sector job growth in 2011 "places New Jersey in the top third among all of the states." In July, Christie said, "Our 12 month job increase was the sixth highest in the nation."

For both statements, Christie was correct in terms of the net increase in jobs, but not in terms of the percentage increase. He received a Half True for each claim.

The governor made a larger mistake when he claimed that New Jersey’s job growth in May 2012 represented "25 percent of all the jobs created in the country."

State estimates for employment changes are done separately from one for the nation as a whole, making it wrong to compare the two. Christie received a False.

Spending cuts

Another common talking point for Christie has been his record of cutting state spending.

When the governor in February unveiled his proposed budget for fiscal year 2013, he accurately claimed the budget was "still below the level of state spending when I took office." The proposed budget was $32.146 billion -- about $5 million less than the spending plan in place when Christie took office.

Christie received a True for that one, but two other claims landed the governor at False on the Truth-O-Meter.

In an interview on "Piers Morgan Tonight," Christie claimed he cut "13 billion dollars in state spending over two years."

The governor did use several measures to close a shortfall in the fiscal year 2010 budget that he inherited upon taking office. But the remaining $10.7 billion represents a theoretical figure for fiscal year 2011 -- known as the structural deficit -- not real money.

The governor didn’t cut that money. He never spent it.

For the current state budget, Christie claimed in July that he "used my line-item veto authority to veto $360 million dollars in special interest spending, so that our budget this year, in fiscal year 2013, which has just begun, is still smaller than the fiscal year 2008 and 2009 budgets signed by my predecessor, Governor Corzine."

However, Christie cut about $86 million from the fiscal year 2013 budget using line-item vetoes. Also, the budget sent to Christie by the Democrat-controlled Legislature was already smaller than the fiscal year 2008 and 2009 spending plans.

Teacher tenure reform

A significant part of Christie’s brand has been his ability to reach bipartisan deals with Democratic lawmakers.

Adding to that theme recently was him signing a bill reforming the tenure system for public school teachers. But even before the signing, Christie was praising the reform, under which he said "that if teachers get two years of partially effective or ineffective ratings they lose tenure."

But the governor was wrong to claim such ratings would automatically lead to teachers losing their tenure. The reform makes significant procedural changes, but teachers still have the right to appeal tenure charges.

Christie received a False.

To comment on this story, go to NJ.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.