TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie delivered his sixth State of the State address Tuesday.
The governor addressed topics including drug addiction, education, the state’s economy and his fight against an amendment regarding the state’s pension system.
Christie said that his time in office has led to the best job creation numbers in 15 years and has lowered the unemployment rate by over 5 percent. He said he wants to help the middle class and will try to do so by abolishing the “estate tax.”
He said that New Jersey and Maryland are the only two states that have both an estate tax and an inheritance tax.
Christie also said that he has made treating drug addiction as an illness a top priority of his time in office. He said that he wants to see drug addiction classified as a disease and said addiction can affect anyone.
He proposed turning the recently closed Mid-State prison into a dedicated drug treatment facility for prison inmates and raising reimbursement rates for drug and mental health facilities.
The governor also proposed increasing reimbursement and Medicaid rates for mental health and substance abuse services by more than $100 million. Service providers treating the uninsured and poor in the state say they've been waiting several years for the increases.
Christie said state lawmakers have to keep working to get things done and move the state forward rather than pander to special interests.
He called out lawmakers' vote for a constitutional amendment to require quarterly payments to the state's public workers pension fund. He said that would make New Jersey's other residents second-class citizens.
The measure would go before voters if it's approved again in the legislative session that began Tuesday.
Democratic leaders delivered a response address to Christie immediately following the speech. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said that Christie’s speech didn’t’ address the whole picture of the state’s economy. He said that the governor doesn’t have the money for his planned initiatives unless he fails to pay into the pension fund.
Prieto also said that Christie’s address was aimed outside of New Jersey and is an example of the governor “running for president.”
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.