Higher taxes is the road to ruin. We must and we will shrink our government, and that means making some tough choices, tightening our belts.
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And I just think that we're at a point in our economic life here in our state - and - and, candidly, across the country, where increased taxes is just the wrong way to go. The people of our state are not convinced that state government, county government, local government has done all they can with the money we already give them, rather than the money that we have before.
I said we are going to balance an $11 billion budget deficit in a $29 billion budget, so by percentage, the largest budget deficit in America, by percentage, larger than California, larger than New York, larger than Illinois. And we're going to balance that without raising taxes on the people of the state of New Jersey.
One state retiree, 49 years old, paid, over the course of his entire career, a total of $124,000 towards his retirement pension and health benefits. What will we pay him? $3.3 million in pension payments over his life and nearly $500,000 for health care benefits - a total of $3.8m on a $120,000 investment.
I know we can fix our problems. When there are people in the room who care more about doing the job they were elected to do than they worry about winning reelection, it is possible to work together, achieve principal compromise, and get results for the people who give us these jobs in the first place.
I've always said there is a boulevard that exists between compromising your principles and getting everything you want. Now, we should never compromise our principles. And I never have. Those are the things that people vote for you on, that's the core of who you are. But there's always a boulevard between that and getting everything you want.
Now, do I think there has to be shared sacrifice among other nations in the world who want a stable and secure world? Absolutely, there has to be. But I don't think that America can ever abdicate its leadership role in the world because of who we are and where we've come from. We are the symbol for the world for freedom and liberty.
Now, in New Jersey, we have more government workers per square mile than any state in America. But since I've been governor we now have fewer people on the state payroll at any time since Christie Whitman left office in January 2001. That's the right direction, Mr. President, not the wrong direction.
The job of a leader, the job of a governor, the job of a president, is to get the people in the room and bang enough heads together and rub enough arms and cajole enough to have them put the country and the state's greater interest ahead of their own personal partisan interest. That's what we did in New Jersey and that's the model for America.
They said it was impossible to touch the third rail of politics, to take on public-sector unions and to reform a pension and health benefits system that was headed to bankruptcy. But with bipartisan leadership, we saved taxpayers $132 billion dollars over 30 years and saved retirees their pensions. We did it.
This country pays a price whenever our economy fails to deliver rising living standards to our citizens - which is exactly what has been the case for years now. We pay a price when our political system cannot come together and agree on the difficult but necessary steps to rein in entitlement spending or reform our tax system.