Christie Admin Insiders Present Economic OutlookFeatured, Media Center, Press Releases — By Editorial Staff on February 5, 2013 at 12:54 PM
On February 5, 2013, CSINJ held a Breakfast Briefing on New Jersey’s economic picture with Richard Bagger, Governor Chris Christie’s former chief of staff (2010-2012) and current Executive Vice President of Celgene Corporation. Approximately 50 business, policy and community leaders gathered at the Park Avenue Club in Florham Park. Mr. Bagger was introduced by Hon. Michael Ferguson, former United States Senator and Chairman of New Jersey’s Sport and Exposition Authority (NJSEA). Together, they delivered a compelling presentation on improvements, opportunities and challenges to New Jersey’s economy; and what we may expect in a second term from Governor Christie.
Mr. Ferguson opened his introduction by saying that his colleagues in Washington, D.C. are confused that things are actually getting done in New Jersey. He described Mr. Bagger as a major contributor to positive change in the Garden State. He cited Bagger as a key ally in turning around the NJSEA. When Governor Christie took office, he had to put the Authority in turn-around. It was losing money; assets failed to perform and required subsidies. “Common sense ingenuity filled a void,” said Mr. Ferguson. “NJSEA is a prime example of how to win the battle of ideas, and it is now profitable.”
As Governor Christie’s Chief-of-Staff from the ground floor, Mr. Bagger was able to convey how the Governor boldly met New Jersey’s catastrophic fiscal situation head-on. He described the atmosphere of excitement and determination under Christie’s unwavering leadership: from facing a $2 billion deficit as he entered office and delivering a balanced budget by Executive Order three weeks later; to the his glee at vetoing the so-called “Millionaire’s Tax.”
Mr. Bagger painted a grim picture facing the State on many levels. Property taxes had increased 70% in the 11 years leading up to the 2010 election. He pointed out how CSINJ’s very first report, “Can Property Taxes Work: Lessons for New Jersey from Massachusetts” was used as the model for a two percent cap on property tax enacted by Legislature and signed into law by Governor Christie. He also cited how our leadership on health care policy helped him in the Administration, and now in his role in the private sector.
In conclusion, Mr. Bagger described the process of fiscal reform in two phases: the immediate and tactical; and the long-term and strategic. With a 20% reduction in government, unemployment slowly going down; 100,000 new private sector jobs; private investment and homes sales up; and 2011-2012 representing the best private business growth since 2000, it is time for phase two. His recommendation for New Jersey policy going forward: “Once you’ve changed the direction, step on the gas pedal.”