So former Education Commissioner Bret Schundler — who before he joined the Christie administration had a pretty good reputation for saying what he believed to be true rather than what he believed to be politically helpful — says Gov. Chris Christie was willing to lose $400 million in federal education funds rather than be seen as cooperating with the teachers union, which he is building a career on demonizing.
Now, Christie has killed a massive project to build a new train tunnel under the Hudson River between New Jersey and Manhattan. More than a half-billion dollars has already been spent on the project, and New Jersey may have to reimburse the federal government $300 million for pulling out of the project. But Christie said new cost-overrun projections made the tunnel suddenly unaffordable. Never mind that a host of government agencies have been working on it for decades, and it is universally seen as necessary for New Jersey’s future.
So ... considering what Schundler said ... and considering that Christie has just returned from a national campaign tour that included a trip to Iowa ... it’s fair to ask if killing the tunnel project is yet another indication that Christie is now more interested in burnishing his national image as a tough, cost-cutting Republican presidential candidate than in governing New Jersey.
It’s fair to ask — and I’m asking.
It has seemed to me for a couple of weeks now — as Christie’s office issues press release after press release touting 10-point plans to cut that or reform this — that actually doing something in New Jersey is no longer the governor’s top priority. Even if the state Legislature were with him, it couldn’t possibly enact all the reform plans and proposals that Christie has thrown on the table. And he knows that. But when you are out in Iowa telling the faithful about all you’ve done in New Jersey, nobody in the audience checks to see if you’ve actually done it or just proposed it.
Of course, killing the tunnel project is actually doing something -- something short-sighted and something that may help Christie more than it helps New Jersey.