Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Christie, Buono claims go up against Truth-O-Meter

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.

Gov. Chris Christie and Barbara Buono may be far apart in polls and political ideology, but they know what issues are critical to New Jersey’s taxpayers.

Both gubernatorial candidates have spent much of the past year drilling down on job growth, government spending and education, according to a review of campaign claims checked this year by the Truth-O-Meter.

But that’s where the similarities end between Christie, a Republican, and Buono, a Democratic state senator from Metuchen.

Since announcing their gubernatorial candidacies in late 2012, the Truth-O-Meter has checked 19 claims by Christie and 10 by Buono.

Looking only at those claims, Christie had five True rulings, six Mostly True, six Half True, one Mostly False and one False.

Buono had two True, two Mostly True, four Half True, one Mostly False and one Pants on Fire.

Here’s a  recap of some of the candidates’ rulings, showing what they got right and what they didn’t.

WHAT'S ACCURATE

Christie was on the money in August when he said the Garden State gets 61 cents back for every dollar sent to Washington, compared with $1.51 for the Bluegrass State. That claim arose after Christie and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) sparred over a national security issue that then resulted in Paul criticizing New Jersey’s attitude about federal spending.

Also in the vein of spending, Christie’s campaign zinged Buono in May with its claim that she voted 154 times to raise fees on things ranging from buying new tires for a vehicle to higher taxes on New Jerseyans earning more than $400,000.

Similarly, Christie was correct when he said during his State of the State Address in January that the state’s Democratic-controlled Legislature raised taxes and fees 115 times in the eight years before he became governor. Jon Corzine was governor during those years.

After Christie visited the Iowa State Fair in July, a Buono TV ad contrasted shots of the governor at political fundraisers with scenes of a blighted New Jersey neighborhood. Buono pointed out that while the governor was stumping for the GOP, Newark’s unemployment rate was 13 percent.

Buono’s figure was accurate -- and then some, with figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirming Newark’s unemployment rate fluctuating up and down during Christie’s tenure as governor. At one point it was more than 16.5 percent.

The senator was correct again in June when she said state spending in the fiscal year 2009 budget was lower than the spending proposed for Christie’s fiscal year 2014 budget. The state’s nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services confirmed a spending difference of $108,491,000 -- or one-third of 1 percent.

WHAT'S WRONG

Now let’s look at the other end of the Truth-O-Meter.

Christie earned a Mostly False in April when he said the Corzine administration, and other administrations, diverted money from the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to plug budget holes. While other administrations had done exactly what Christie described, Corzine was the first governor to stop the diversions. The fund’s reserves were so low, in fact, that Corzine authorized a $260 million payment and borrowing more than $1 billion from the federal government to cover fund costs. The loan is on track to be repaid by March.

The governor’s one False ruling since announcing his re-election bid resulted when he said in a December radio interview that New Jersey takes in $38 billion in tourism revenue from businesses at the Jersey Shore. In 2011, nearly $19 billion in tourism revenue came from Shore communities. The higher figure represents tourism revenue for the entire state.

Buono’s lowest ruling, a Pants on Fire, stemmed from repeating claims about Christie’s support of a tax cut.

In January, Buono claimed that Christie remained supportive of a proposal he announced a year prior to cut income tax rates by 10 percent across-the-board over three years. Under that proposal, higher-income taxpayers, who pay more in income taxes, would have benefited more than lower-income taxpayers. Christie, however, backed away from that plan and endorsed one by Buono’s colleagues -- Senate Democrats -- to cut income taxes only for New Jerseyans below a certain income level and based on their annual property tax bills. She earned the Truth-O-Meter’s lowest ranking for this claim because it was one she continued to repeat, even after PolitiFact New Jersey debunked it.

To see all rulings for Christie, click here. For Buono's rulings, click here.

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