TRENTON, N.J. - Governor Chris Christie has just seven days left at the helm in Trenton. He delivered the highlights of his tenure during a speech to lawmakers Tuesday. His final state of the state address focused on his reform of public workers’ pension system, a balanced state budget and lower taxes. He said New Jersey is in way better financial shape than when he came in.
“So let's be clear before the next team comes in here, we are handing off a state that is growing jobs and a budget that is honestly balanced, unlike what we inherited eight years ago,” he told lawmakers.
He also pointed to the accomplishment of bail reform. New Jersey’s new system has been called a model for other states across the country.
"Release from jail pending trial is now no longer based on how much money you have in the bank but on the seriousness of the accusations and your criminal record,” the Governor said.
Perhaps Christie’s most lasting legacy will be his work to combat the opioid crisis, a cause near and dear to his heart after he lost a friend to drug addiction years ago.
"We have the nation’s strongest limit on opioid prescriptions and since we implemented our new restrictions those prescriptions have decreased by over 15 percent,” he said. "We are still losing too many of our citizens to this disease, but we are now taking concrete steps to try turn back the tide of death and suffering."
His proudest days as governor were also his hardest.
"Whenever I am asked what I am most proud of in my eight years, it is the days, weeks, months and years since Sandy and the way our government handled it," he said. "The results were not always perfect; they never are perfect. What was perfect was the effort, the compassion and the focus. Every day for over five years."
Christie will leave office with the lowest public approval rating of any governor in state history. Bridgegate delivered a blow to his reputation, followed by his failed presidential run. Christie also upset the state’s largely blue voter base when he became the first candidate to publicly endorse President Donald Trump.
The brash Republican will turn the state over to Democrats next Tuesday.
"I wish Governor-elect Murphy and his family every success and every joy that is possible for them over the next four years. Next Tuesday at noon he will be my Governor too,” Christie said. “I have loved the job and I am so grateful to all the people of New Jersey for giving me the chance to serve the state where I was born and raised and where my four children were born and raised."
Inaugural events for Governor-elect Phil Murphy will begin on Friday in Newark. Murphy will take the oath of office in Trenton on Tuesday and he will host an inaugural ball at MetLife Stadium later that evening.