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Gov. Christie on Saving Money & the Hard Decisions We Have to Make

NJ Gov. Chris Christie on "Morning Joe": This teacher complaining, they're getting four-to-five percent salary increases a year in a zero percent inflation world; they get free health benefits from the day they're hired--for their entire family--until the day they die. They believe they're entitled to this shelter from the recession when the people who are paying for that shelter are the people who have been laid off, who have lost their homes, had their hours cut back, and all we asked them to do was freeze their salary for one year and pay one-and-a-half percent of their salary for their health benefits. For the average teacher in New Jersey, you're talking about $750 a year for full-family health coverage. Now, I don't think that's a lot to ask, and I don't think we can continue anymore to be having the good people of New Jersey who have been laid off and all the rest--as much as I love teachers--you know, everyone's got to be part of the sacrifice.

Andrew Ross Sorkin: How do you do this in other states? How do you make this politically palatable? And you have a spine, but I've got to tell you, a lot of other politicians don't.

Christie: Well, they better get one because the times demand it. And if what you're going to do is just play the same old game and not speak directly to people and not treat them like adults, then you are bound for failure. Listen, all I'm doing is speaking the truth as I see it, and other people have to make their own judgments.

Sorkin: Are you not worried though about spending in your state in terms of those teachers who are actually going to be taking these cuts, whether they are going to be able to keep spending in the state and what that means for the economy?

Christie: First of all, they're not taking any cuts. I asked them to take cuts, and they said no. So, what cuts are they taking? These teachers are still getting their four or five percent increases. That interplay that you just saw was about me trying to convince people that they need to take a freeze, but, in the end, they didn't. The state teachers union said--they had a rally in Trenton against me. 35,000 people came from the teachers. You know what that rally was? The "me first" rally. "Pay me my raise first. Pay me my free health benefits first. Pay me my pension first. And everybody else in New Jersey, get to the back of the line." Well, you know what? I'm not going to sit by and allow that to go unnoticed, so we'll shine a bright light on it, and we'll see how the people react. But I think we are seeing how the people of New Jersey are reacting, and that's how you make it politically palatable in other states in the country. Just shine a bright light on greed and self-interest."

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