STIRLING, NJ - Gov. Chris Christie's 111th town hall meeting was held in Long Hill Township on Wednesday morning. Included in the crowd of more than 500 were students from St. Vincent de Paul School in Millington, Watchung Hills Regional High School and Woodland School in Warren.
Woodland School student Abigail Shanahan, 10, stole the show when called on during the question and answer portion of the meeting. Shanahan urged Christie to reconsider the switch from the standardized NJASK test to PARCC, with back up from her science experiment on memory. Christie invited Shanahan to join him center stage and asked her to be sure to take a call from the Commissioner of Education, Chris Cert.
Shanahan says," Don't be a follower, be a leader."
Video by GovChristie
On meeting Christie, Shanahan said, "Going into it I had no idea I would even meet the governor. When he called on me, I was surprised. During the whole thing, I had so many different feelings. I was nervous, happy, excited. It was a great experience."
Other questions hit on issues from helping the developmentally disabled, specifically children with Autism , a landfill in Morris County and the more than 200 failing public schools in the state.
In his opening remarks, Christie warned the crowd, "If you decide that today is the day that you want to show off for your friends, if today is the day you decide you want to take the governor of New Jersey for a walk, just understand the rules of engagement before you start: We are all from New Jersey. And I think you know what that means."
“State taxes won’t go up as long as I’m governor,” Christie said to applause. “I won’t do it. " Christie then focused on the enormous pension account that is, according to actuarial accounts, $52 billion underfunded.
Christie repeated a line from his budget address on Tuesday that this year’s budget is smaller than the 2008 spending plan without pension, health care and debt service costs. The total spending plan – the largest in state history – is $34.4 billion and includes the full, legally required $2.25 billion pension payment.
“Think about that, nine out of every 10 dollars goes for nothing that is productive for our future as a state,” Christie said. “It merely pays for past mistakes and bad promises.”I’m ready work with the entire Legislature to come up with ideas to fix this, but if they’re unwilling to that do that, this is a problem we’re going to own,” Christie said
Christie said his brother, Todd, texted him: “Lot of sunshine in that thing, thanks for cheering me up.”
Christie said it was his job “to be the adult in the room” and not “entertainer in chief.” Warning, that “not even Mark Zuckerberg could bail us out of this problem,” Christie invoked Detroit, the largest U.S. city to declare bankruptcy.
“Detroit is giving us a preview of what could happen to us. It’s the trailer of what could happen to us if we don’t get on this even more now,” he said.
“I’m not going to worry about politics anymore everybody,” he said. “This is it. I’m on the back nine. When you’re on the back nine and you don’t have to worry about playing another nine, your only obligation is to tell people the truth.”
As his mother said on her death bed," go to work Christopher, go to work."