Senator Rice Blasts Governor Christie For ’47 Percent’ Mentality

Senator Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex, addresses his colleagues on the Senate floor.

Says Governor’s Elitist World View is Reflected in Policy Inaction

NEWARK – New Jersey State Senator Ronald L. Rice today criticized Governor Chris Christie for his “theatrical, bully-style” political and public relations strategies, saying that the Governor’s theatrics have blocked his ability to see the harm that his actions and inactions have caused to New Jersey residents.

Specifically, Senator Rice pointed to the Governor’s failure to distance himself from presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s writing off of 47 percent of the population as representative of the fact that Governor Christie is out of touch with the hue and cry of homeowners and innocent people in struggling urban municipalities.

“Politicians like Governor Christie and Mitt Romney believe their role in public life as elected officials is to ignore this group of taxpayers and voters whom they refer to as the ’47 percent’ people,” said Senator Rice, D-Newark. “If you look at the problems these so-called 47 percenters are facing – particularly in terms of an out-of-control foreclosure crisis and the rising tide of violence in our urban core – you’ll notice that Governor Christie hasn’t lifted a finger to help. Governor Christie needs to get away from the ’47 percent’ mentality that has plagued his first three years in office and start representing all the people of the Garden State.”

Senator Rice has been at the forefront of working with his legislative colleagues in both houses and both political parties in assisting homeowners in keeping their homes during the current foreclosure crisis facing the State. He said he supports calls from Assemblymen Jerry Green and Gary Schaer for a joint hearing on the foreclosure crisis and on the Governor’s failure to utilize the $300 million awarded to the State from the federal government to assist homeowners in crisis through the NJ Homekeeper loan program. He said he would work with legislators in both houses to advance safeguards to ensure that the Homekeeper program lives up to its promise of helping New Jersey homeowners keep their homes.

“While this Governor has been busy bullying people from his taxpayer-funded town hall events, New Jersey homeowners who could have been helped and who qualified for assistance have lost their homes,” said Senator Rice. “The people of New Jersey didn’t elect you to stand on your soap box and shout down your political opponents, Governor. They elected you to look out for all of their interests.”

Senator Rice said the issue of the Governor’s ambivalence towards urban residents was even more prominent in his inaction to curb violent crime in urban communities. Recently, Governor Christie spoke out against a resolution, sponsored by Paterson City Council President Anthony Davis, which would have declared Paterson to be in a state of emergency because of the high rate of violent crimes being perpetrated in the city. Governor Christie said that he did not support the resolution because, according to his view, the city is mismanaged and does not deserve more State aid.

“The truth of the matter is that cities such as Paterson, Newark, Camden, Jersey City, Trenton and others are in a state of emergency as it relates to the shootings and killings which are taking place daily, whether the Governor wants to admit it or not,” said Senator Rice. “More people are killed in New Jersey cities daily than U.S. military personnel killed in the line of duty in the active combat zones where our U.S. troops are fighting today.

“The Governor’s attitude and mindset, at least as I interpret it in his response to both the foreclosure problem and crime problem in New Jersey is that ‘I gave a few dollars, so to hell with people losing their homes or having innocent family members being shot or killed daily,’” added Senator Rice. “He’s also saying that these are your problems, and not mine. Violent crime and booming foreclosure numbers don’t happen in Mendham on a regular basis, so why should this Governor care what happens to people living anywhere else in the State?”

Senator Rice said that often, municipalities seeking help from the State are not necessarily asking for more money. “Sometimes it’s simply a matter of understanding the problems and working with the residents and leaders in New Jersey communities, rather than dictating, intimidating and bullying them,” said Senator Rice. “As the Senator representing the 28th legislative district, and as chairman of the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus, I will be reaching out to encourage my members as well as the members of Latino Legislative Caucus and the Women’s Caucus to support the call for a joint hearing to address the foreclosure issue and to consider having joint hearings throughout the State to address the needs of urban mayors and council-members to substantially reduce violent crime in their communities.

“As elected officials, sometimes we need to slow down and take the time to consider the needs of the good and innocent people who are the victims of our political stonewalling and the negative partisanship that has become a hallmark of State government under Governor Christie,” added Senator Rice. “Presidents, governors and elected officials at all levels of government are elected to be just as concerned about the so-called 47 percent – the working families and struggling people that Governor Christie and candidate Romney deride – as they are about the other 53 percent of the population.”