Gov. Chris Christie vowed to "kick (legislators') rear ends" to get New Jersey residents a tax cut during a town hall meeting Tuesday in Brick.
Christie repeatedly slammed Statehouse Democrats for inaction on his desired 10 percent income tax cuts and promised that taxes will never rise so long as he is governor in his latest stop on the "Jersey Comeback" tour at
An estimated 750 people packed the school's gymnasium just four days before the state's fiscal year ends and two days after the Assembly and Senate passed a $31.7 billion 2013 budget on strict party line votes, with no Republican support.
With the last legislative session before recess scheduled for Thursday, Christie said he'd hound majority Democrats up and down the state all summer if they don't act to reduce residents' tax burden.
"I'm going to point out... that these folks lied," he said. "I'm going to kick their rear ends from one end of the state to the other to get you your tax cut."
Democrats in the Statehouse set aside $183 million in the $31.7 billion spending plan to pay for property tax credits but propose to tie the relief to state revenue figures. Separate legislation would be needed for the proposed givebacks, but only if the governor's ambitious revenue targets hold through December. Democratic lawmakers have said the state likely cannot afford an across-the-board income tax cut in light of disappointing revenue figures the past few months.
Christie, however, branded legislators as tax-and-spend lawmakers who are not willing to send money back to the residents.
"These Corzine Democrats are all about raising your taxes," he said.
Christie also labeled Sen. Paul Sarlo, Democratic chair of the Senate Budget Committee, an "arrogant S.O.B." for a comment reported in the Star-Ledger in which he likened the Democrats' tax cut proposal to "putting the cookies on the table and saying 'be good and you can have it later.' "
"He's got to be one arrogant S.O.B... to tell the people when they've been good enough to get your money back," Christie said.
"I'll fight the fights that are worth fighting," the governor said. "We have a fight on our hands worth fighting now."
Christie also said he's extended his hand across the aisle to work with Democrats during his tenure, but the current budget process shows him he was "fooled" to think they can work in a bipartisan fashion.
Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, said Monday that Christie was playing politics with the budget and failing to lead.
"All the threatening, hostile and inflammatory comments do is escalate tensions rather than defuse them. You get the sense that even as the Senate and Assembly leadership were trying to engage him, the governor was too busy planning his response to even listen," she said on the floor of the Senate.
"His abject refusal to negotiate shows a failure in leadership. Drawing a line in the sand and digging in your heels over a completely irresponsible tax cut is not leadership. The governor remains stubbornly delusional, and sadly, that's been reflected in this budget process. His refusal to negotiate this most important of documents defined this budget process, defines his administration and should not be something to crow about in town hall meetings," Buono said.
Several members of the public were called upon to speak, with most either praising Christie or asking for his personal help in different matters.
Hannah Infantolino of Brick, a member of the Historic Preservation Commission, was promised assistance from Christie's office toward achieving grant monies for the preservation of township buildings, for example. A Pine Beach man was told there would be "repercussions" when the resident claimed a Department of Environmental Protection staffer threatened to "bury him" in violations for a perceived slight.
Otherwise, residents' questions offered Christie the chance to emphasize the themes of the day.
Christie told one Toms River man concerned about the economy that it will be difficult to retain businesses in New Jersey without a lower tax burden.
"We don't create jobs in government. We create the atmosphere for jobs," Christie said.
Officials have "suffocated" the economy with taxes, he said. "We're not going to fix the problem overnight... we need to lower income taxes."