Category Archives: Speeches

Announcement Speech

12/2/2004

Good afternoon, and thanks for coming.

After serious thought and consideration, I asked you here today to let you know that I hope to serve the people of New Jersey as their next elected governor.

It is a decision that didn’t come easily, but I am convinced it is the right one.

Let me be clear — I’m not running for governor as a reaction to what others have done. . . I’m running for governor for what I can do.

I’m not running for governor to oppose any individual . . . I’m running for governor to build a better life for eight and a half million New Jerseyans.

I’m running for governor to lead a state government that gives citizens value for their hard earned tax dollars and respects the values that hold us together.

I’m running for governor because I have the CEO experience of running one of the most successful private businesses in the world and I’ve served effectively in the most important deliberative body in history.

I’m running for governor after leading a respected financial institution that was rated one of the ten best places to work in America. As governor, I hope to make New Jersey one of the best places to live, to work, to go to school, to start a business and to grow old with dignity to set a new standard of excellence.

I’m running for Governor because the causes of social justice, quality education, accessible health care, and environmental accountability are under attack across America, but they must advance in New Jersey. With this campaign we will demonstrate that progressive ideas can be far more powerful than divisive politics.

A return to the traditional American values of concern for community, belief in each other and integrity in public life must begin somewhere. With this campaign, it begins in New Jersey.

This will not be a campaign about me — it will be a campaign about us.

Five years ago, I left private life to fight for the people and causes I believe in. I’ve been very blessed in my life. I’ve had the benefit of good public schools, the strength and encouragement of my family and community, and I was afforded tremendous professional opportunities that left me better off than I could have ever dreamed.

I believed five years ago and I still do that it is my responsibility to fight so that everyone can have the same kind of opportunities I’ve had and it’s my responsibility to fight, that fight where I can do the most good.

I believe that place is here and it is now as the governor of this great state.

That said, I am truly honored to serve as New Jersey’s United States Senator, and quite frankly, I love the job and the chance to affect change on critical issues:

National security and the war against terrorism;

Homeland Security;

Health Care;

Education;

Civil rights and civil liberties;

Social Security

The list goes on. But today, I believe that I can do more for New Jersey as its Governor.

I have served the people of this state with one goal, always in mind:

To represent their interests.

I promised the people of this state that if they elected me to the Senate, they would get a fighter who would stand up for them against the insiders and special interests UNBOUGHT AND UNBOSSED. That is what the people of New Jersey have gotten.

In my work in the Senate, it is always the people here at home who matter most.

And because I believe that, I have decided to run for Governor.

Given the history of recent years, New Jersey needs credible, hands-on, executive leadership in Trenton.

We need an outsider’s perspective, and we need a Governor whose first priority is to earn the trust of the people of this state.

I’ve been warned that the atmosphere in Trenton has been poisoned by procrastination, corruption and financial mismanagement that I should stay in the Senate above the fray. But that’s not why I got involved in public life.

Now more than ever, the challenge of restoring the credibility and confidence of our government falls on all of us in public life. And I accept that challenge.

I have worked hard to be the kind of United States Senator who is focused on my constituents, and the issues that impact their lives.

In this post 9-11 world, where tens of thousands of brave men and women many of them New Jerseyans — risk their lives on the front lines in Iraq, there can be no tolerance for any other objective.

The public interest will be my, only, interest as Governor.

In the Senate, I pushed for the creation of the 9-11 commission, led the fight for tighter security at our chemical facilities and was outspoken in pushing for allocating homeland security resources based on risk.

I won corporate reforms to protect small investors and expanded home ownership opportunities for the middle class and our veterans.

I fought to make sure New Jersey’s PAAD program was protected in the new Medicare prescription drug law and wrote and passed with Congressman Frelinghuysen — the 110 million dollar Highlands Conservation Act.

I have been a leader in pushing back against overreaching tax cuts and pork barrel spending that will bankrupt our children’s future.

Today, I pledge to be the same kind of Governor — independent, principled, fiscally responsible, socially progressive, and effective.

I know what it takes to create jobs, to scrub a budget, to meet a payroll, and to make tough decisions about what investments make the most sense for the future.
I have made this announcement today to make my intentions ABSOLUTELY clear. Over the coming months I will offer my ideas for moving our state forward.

On providing affordable access at health care;

On improving education in the places it’s broken;

On protecting the most vulnerable our children and seniors;

On restoring a balanced and responsible fiscal plan;

On protecting a quality of life that provides for open spaces, clean beaches, clean air, and clean water;

On expanding New Jersey’s economy and building businesses;

On restoring the trust of our people in their elected officials.

As I said before we need to set a new standard of excellence in state government.

I respect the difficulty of the task ahead too much to come before you today with clever slogans or ten point plans. We need far more than a broom and a web site to change New Jersey for the better.

Most of all, being governor is being a leader. And if the people of New Jersey give me the privilege, I will be that leader.

Corzine’s Plans for a More Open, Honest, and Accountable Government

2/8/2005

Plan for a More Honest, Open, and Accountable Government

Remarks delivered on 2/11 at the Edward Bloustein School of Planning and public Policy at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

Good morning.

Let me thank Dean Hughes for inviting me to an institution that is preparing the future leadership of New Jersey, to discuss a critical issue before this state today:

Restoring the people’s trust in what should be the people’s government.

I approach this topic as the former CEO of one of the nation’s largest financial institutions, where success was measured not just by doing well, but doing right by shareholders and customers.

I approach this topic as a reformer who went to the U.S. Senate and tackled the crisis of ethics and governance in corporate America in the wake of Enron and WorldCom.

And I approach this topic as a proud New Jersey citizen, motivated to run for Governor in part because this state’s reputation is at risk, as a result of repeated episodes of corruption, favoritism and fraud.

Before turning to a discussion on ethics and governance, let me thank Rutgers for the help, ideas, and advice so generously given by this school during my service in the United States Senate. Rutgers has always been a crucible of innovation and progress. I’ve seen that firsthand, working with your faculty and staff, not only in the fight for financial reform, but in the ongoing effort to protect New Jersey’s open spaces, the fight for a more modern transportation system, and in the new and urgent challenges of homeland security including security at our nation’s chemical plants. There are Senate bills I have fought for that truly bear the stamp of Rutgers.

I have chosen this place and audience to focus on the character of state government because the next generation of leaders being formed here, by choosing public service, have expressed your faith in President Kennedy’s ideal that it can be an “honorable profession.”

But too often in recent years, government in New Jersey has seemed far from that ideal. Again and again, between that ideal and the reality, falls the shadow of the insider deal, the no-bid contract, and the outright betrayal of the public trust.

For too many years, New Jerseyans have come to believe that instead of government of, by and for the people, we have a government of, by and for political contributors, lobbyists, and those who at every level pay to play.

And the people pay for this, by paying in effect, what is a “corruption tax.”

It is no wonder that so many people in New Jersey don’t trust government itself or government officials of either party.

This is not a Republican problem, or a Democratic problem. In administrations both Republican and Democratic, we’ve seen State government spend billions of tax dollars with little or no accountability, and little or no real public input. And that is why this problem can only be fixed by both parties. Reform, cannot and must not, be a political football; simply one more issue used for partisan advantage. The people of New Jersey don’t have the patience for that anymore. As Acting Governor Codey has said and shown, it is time for a change.

We can no longer afford government contracts awarded as a payback to the best connected, instead of going to the best qualified.

I am committed to lead the change our state needs and with the support of all who seek a better deal for the people of New Jersey, and millions of voters this November, we can and will succeed.

We can and will lead this state on the path of honest, open, and effective government.

If I’m elected your next governor, New Jersey will move in the right direction right ethically, right financially, and right for the taxpayers of our state.

I want to put the people back in the driver’s seat.

First, I am proposing that we amend the constitution and establish a new statewide office an elected, not appointed, Comptroller — a powerful watchdog over the conduct of government at all levels from the Governor’s office to the local DMV.

The Comptroller will answer to the people and no one else.

We often hear that the New Jersey’s Governorship is the most powerful in the country.

Well, I want some of that power given back to the people.

And that means an elected Comptroller empowered to deal impartially with any official, any Department, any contract, and any program.

I have pledged already that as Governor, my decisions will be based on merit. I refuse to play the old politics of recruiting campaign contributors by promising rewards to them.

You have my promise that I will be an independent Governor, accountable to the people.

But with an elected state Comptroller, you, the people, will now have a watchdog who will be your eyes and ears to make sure that commitment is kept at every level of state government.

The Comptroller won’t be a powerless critic. He or she will have real authority the authority to conduct comprehensive audits of all government programs at all levels from school districts to State agencies and State authorities.

New Jersey State government is a 40 billion dollar enterprise.

I can tell you, if New Jersey were a company, its shareholders would have demanded an independent, outside auditor a long time ago. Now they’ll get one. And they’ll get audits regularly.
I can also tell you, as a former CEO, that responsible leaders embrace and encourage accountability. That’s the only kind of leader I know how to be.

The Comptroller will review all government contracts over $1 million to make sure that fundamental questions are answered before any money is spent.

Here are some examples: Do we need to be spending money on this contract at all? If we do, is the contract going to the most qualified, most competitive vendor? Is the state being overcharged, or is the contractor underperforming?

It is time to end the malpractice of single-bid and no-bid contracts. The bidding process should be fair, open and public. Doing it any other way is worse than wrong. It doesn’t work: it doesn’t make good business sense and it can rob not only public money, but public confidence. We can no longer allow exceptions to public bidding rules in order to facilitate backroom deals.

The Comptroller will ensure that all government contracts go to the bidder who can provide the best service at the best price, period. The test will be the public good, not political contributions or connections.

I know, from my many years in business, that large organizations can become bloated, inefficient and even corrupt – when no one questions how things are done.

As a U.S. Senator, I authored tough corporate reforms included in the Sarbanes-Oxley law. It was a bipartisan effort. It is also one of my proudest achievements. We have raised accounting standards, improved corporate governance, and are holding cheaters criminally liable for defrauding shareholders and the public. It’s tough, and it didn’t make me a lot of friends in certain parts of Wall Street. But you know what: It wasn’t just right for the public; it was essential to a fair, honest, and credible financial marketplace.

It’s even worse when government fails to meet basic standards – because when programs are inefficient and agencies become pawns of special interests, the public is cheated twice.

First, because taxpayer dollars are wasted. And second, because urgent needs go unmet, or half-met, or become pretexts for unjustified profiteering.

Like the Government Accountability Office at the federal level, New Jersey’s Comptroller will conduct performance reviews to make sure:

-That the state programs we’re paying for are needed, and,

-And that the programs we need are being run without abuse, corruption, failure or favoritism.

The Comptroller will have the power to investigate complaints of fraud, waste, and mismanagement, and the mandate to report the results directly to the people.

And where there’s evidence of a crime, the Comptroller will cooperate with our law enforcement officials to make sure that corrupt public officials are punished to the full extent of the law.

As Governor, I will appoint an Attorney General who will be independent and aggressive, and will make the prosecution of public corruption a top priority.

The Comptroller will have the resources to hire professional auditors, evaluators and investigators — and to secure and use the best technology.

The Comptroller will also make sure that agencies live up to their obligations under the law to make sure that small businesses get a fair shake, especially those owned by minorities and women.

Some complain we can’t afford another government agency. That’s just an empty excuse to perpetuate the stats quo.

I say we can’t afford not to take every step to make our government work effectively, efficiently and honestly.

It’s time for New Jersey to join 15 other states that elect auditors or comptrollers, including Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut.

This is about ethics in government which is fundamental. But it’s also about fiscal responsibility which is essential. If we could prevent just one disastrous contract like the 400 million dollar EZ Pass deal, we could fund this new office and return money to the treasury.

The Comptroller’s Office will pay for itself, serve New Jersey taxpayers, and rebuild trust in government.

It’s true that today there are some state government agencies designed to audit different elements of government spending. But if you ask the people of New Jersey whether we have too much independent oversight of government spending, I know the answer you’d get.

On this issue, we need a belt and suspenders approach.

Whenever we can consolidate and avoid duplication, we will.

But the priority must be to get an elected Comptroller up and running. That’s why I want us to hold the election for that office as soon as we can.

I will ask the voters to approve this new office in 2006, and then in 2007, the people of New Jersey will choose our first Comptroller for a two year term.

We will hold an election for a four-year term on the same cycle as the election for Governor, beginning in 2009.

And just as there’s no reason to wait until 2009 for a Comptroller, there’s also no reason to wait until 2009 for a Lieutenant Governor. The voters have the right to decide who will succeed when the Governor leave office.

I believe that this fall, the voters will approve the proposal for a Lieutenant Governor.

But we should hold the election for that position before 2009.
The next step I will take is vital and long overdue, and rarely acted on by politicians, and in too limited a way.

Pay-to-play.

It MUST STOP. Everywhere in New Jersey.

If I’m elected, I will not only end pay-to-play for State contracts.

I will work to pass a law ending pay-to-play at every level of government in this state from school districts, to towns, to local authorities, to county governments.

All of us have a right to expect that when decisions are made about government contracts, the only determining factors should be quality and price.

And businesses that provide important services to state and local governments construction companies, engineers, accountants, and law firms should compete on the merits.

The package of contract documents should not be accompanied, forwarded, or followed by a batch of tickets to the next political fundraiser.
Some will say that eliminating pay-to-play, root and branch, will never play in Trenton.

I reject that.

I intend to come to Trenton next January with the support of millions of New Jerseyans who are fed up with the old politics

Their message will be unmistakable and it will be heard. And those who refuse to hear it, who think there’s an easy deal to be made, or convenient evasions to be manufactured, will find out that when I give my word, I mean business. And when the people give their mandate, they expect it to be respected. Those who hold on to play as you go, at any level, will be rejected at the polls and New Jersey will change.

There is a third major reform we need – to tighten the ethics laws for those who work in government.

We must close the revolving door between public office and special interest lobbying.

Public office should be a public trust, not a pathway to influence peddling.

For years, some former government employees have abused current rules that are supposed to stop them from lobbying on issues they “substantially” worked on in government.

Under my administration, this will no longer be a matter of interpretation.

I will put in place an absolute, unqualified ban on revolving-door lobbying by senior staff in the executive branch: If you serve in this capacity, then for a full year after you leave, you will not be able to lobby state government. You will not be able to hand out a contract worth tens of millions of dollars to a company one day, and then days or weeks later, go out and go to work for that company.
Today I have outlined three fundamental changes:

– An elected Comptroller

– Ending pay-to-play at every level
– Closing the revolving door

Other reforms are critical, from a ban on wheeling, to an end to pension padding, to strengthening public financing of campaigns.

Acting Governor Codey and the Legislature are also moving a bill to re-establish the Public Advocate as a cabinet office. It should be passed without delay.

At the same time, we should give the public not just more control, but complete control, over the State Ethics Commission, which hears ethics complaints against officials and employees in the executive branch.

Right now, seven of the Commission’s nine members are government officials.

We need an Ethics Commission where all the members represent the public.
I don’t just want ethics in government to be an issue in New Jersey. I want it to be an ideal and I want it to be real.

This is not impossible; indeed, it is fundamental to our future. Good government is good business. Countless businesspeople have told me that the culture of corruption, favoritism and fraud has weakened their desire to do business here.

In Washington, I took on the abuses on Wall Street. In Trenton, I will take on abuses in state government. I know the right way may not be easy; those who profit from the politics of the past will resist the coming of the future. But I know we can and will prevail because I won’t be anyone’s Governor but yours.

And let me repeat my insistence that both parties face this problem. But let me be clear, I am leading the way, and I will get this done.

With your votes, your help, and your continuing involvement, the people of New Jersey will take back the government of New Jersey.

And then in future years, when the graduates of the Edward J. Bloustein School lead this state and its communities, our governance will be worthy of the idealism and talent that you have brought to this school.

Invest, Grow, Prosper

3/22/2005

Blueprint for New Jersey’s Economic Growth

I want to thank President Altenkirch and the faculty and students of NJIT for inviting me to speak here today.  To me, there is no better venue for talking about New Jersey’s future than an institution that is dedicated to educating the best and brightest on the science and technologies of tomorrow.

When I announced my candidacy last December, I said that as Governor, I would work to make New Jersey one of the best places to live, to work, to go to school, to start a business and to grow old with dignity to set a new standard of excellence.

I said this because I believe New Jersey has everything it takes to make this vision a reality.

So let’s be clear about why we are here today.  The old politics of tax, borrow and spend has failed New Jersey.  We need a new paradigm, of invest, grow and prosper.  And that requires strong and strategic management.

Within our borders, we have all the assets we need to make this happen.  But too often, our assets are just not being used effectively to improve our lives and enhance our future.

When I served as Chairman of Goldman Sachs, it was rated one of the 10 best places to work in America.

We valued our employees, we offered honest service to our clients, and we expected and demanded excellence by our team.

We never lost track of the bottom line, but we always retained a steady eye on the long-term.

By planning for the long-term growth of our business, we not only met our objectives, we generally exceeded them.

These are the same high expectations and results I want to bring to New Jersey as your next Governor.

We cannot achieve the best hopes of our people if we tolerate the wrong instincts in our leaders.  We cannot retain and attract new jobs and new businesses in an environment that tolerates corruption and insider deals.

And we will not restore restraint and integrity to New Jersey’s fiscal policies, if we do not demand both from our leaders.

Growing New Jersey’s economy and creating good-paying jobs cannot and will not happen unless four important things happen.

We must enact the comprehensive ethics reforms I offered last month.

We must once-and-for-all get New Jersey’s fiscal house in order.

We must bring 21st century management practices to State government, and start treating it like the 28 billion dollar operation that it is.

And we must end hand-to-mouth, year-to-year decision-making and replace it with long-term thinking and planning.

These are the simple pre-conditions for taking New Jersey to a higher level.  Without them, the state’s future will fall short of our potential.  With them, we will be able to invest in New Jersey’s pre-eminent asset – its people and define a brighter future for each of them.

Additionally, New Jersey has many valuable assets with distinct features and qualities that we can claim uniquely as our own.

We have one of the most diverse ecosystems anywhere in the world: a combination of highlands, farmlands and the Jersey shore.

New Jersey is the connecting corridor in the most vibrant region in the world – where seaports, airports, rail lines, and roadways converge to serve the diverse needs of regional, national and international commerce.

We were the crossroads of the American Revolution, and today we are on the frontier for the fine and performing arts.

We host and support one of the most respected public and private higher education systems anywhere with a world class threesome of public research universities including NJIT and with state and community colleges that serve hundreds of thousands of citizens every year.

We are home to some of the fastest growing industries in the world: pharmaceuticals, medical devices, health sciences, biotech, and financial services.

And we are home to one of the most diverse, best educated, highly skilled, and most ambitious and hopeful populations in the world.

Because of all of our assets, New Jersey has the highest median income of any state in the nation, but to keep it that way, we have to work hard, work smart, and do more.

And, we have the potential to do it.  And all of that potential must be put to work to broaden opportunities for every family in New Jersey.

I know the American Dream.  I have been blessed in my life.  I’ve had the benefit of a loving family and good public schools.  I had the strength and support of my community.  I started at the ground floor of a great American business, worked hard and made my way to the top.

I want everyone in New Jersey to have that same shot at the American Dream.  That is why I entered public life, and that is why I am running to be the next Governor of this great state.

I believe that the challenge for our next Governor is to keep track of the bottom line while never losing sight of our long-term goals.

We need to think in new ways about old problems, and use the assets we have at our disposal.  Let’s commit ourselves to putting our best minds to work on a plan for New Jersey’s future.

In order to get us started, I have come to this great institution of science and learning to offer my ideas about fixing New Jersey’s finances, managing its government better, and growing our economy:

To fix our finances, we must transform New Jersey’s fiscal policy from a short-sighted process of tax, borrow and spend, to a long-term strategy of invest, grow and prosper.   Stronger revenues come from a stronger economy.

The state budget looks like a cold set of numbers, one piled on top of the other.  But the budget affects every single person from the shore to our cities.  It’s an expression of our values and what we think is important.

And when we play games with our fiscal house, when we use budget gimmicks instead of making hard choices, all we do is cheat the people of New Jersey and shortchange their future.

Every family thinks about their long-term obligations – meeting the mortgage, paying for school, putting something away for a rainy day – before they go on a spending spree.  It is long past time for Trenton to think beyond the next budget or the next election.

Acting Governor Codey has taken important steps to slow down the State’s addiction to one-shot fiscal gimmicks.  He has begun treating our fiscal problems honestly, but we all know there is more for us to address.

Homestead rebates are at risk because of our budget shortfall, and saving as much of them as we can should be today’s highest legislative priority.  I have said it before, and I will say it again: it is long past time for comprehensive property tax relief, and to achieve it, we will face some very hard choices.

Let me repeat, whether or not the people vote for a property tax convention in November, I intend to call a special session of the legislature, early next year, to focus exclusively on property taxes and to take action.

Long-term property tax relief requires that we confront the ugly truth of our fiscal condition:  Fixed costs are rising every year at an unsustainable rate.  Health care costs, salary and pension benefits for both employees and retirees are devouring more than our annual growth in revenues, and the trend is getting worse, not better.

The Governor’s task force on fixed costs is a good first step to confront this problem.  But it’s just a start.  In stark contrast, some candidates for Governor ignore this reality, and promise what they can’t deliver:  across-the-board cuts in costs they don’t control.

So let’s be frank.  We must confront the intractable problems of property taxes and fixed costs, but that’s not enough.  We must also take immediate steps to reign in government spending:

We should examine more efficient ways to administer the State Health Benefits Program, which cost 220 million dollars more this year than last.

We should consider bulk purchasing of high-cost items like prescription drugs.  We can consolidate administrative functions in State agencies and cut PR budgets by 50% to save a combined 70 million dollars over three years.

Technology upgrades can save the State 100 million dollars annually by the third year, and energy efficiency measures can add another 20 million dollars in savings over three years.

The steady growth in the State employee workforce must end.  Acting Governor Codey is now cutting 500 positions through attrition. We should continue that approach for a number of years.  In addition, I will limit political appointees and work to reduce their numbers by a substantial percentage.

And finally, it is time to evaluate the true benefits of every State agency and program.  It is time to determine which ones are worth the cost, and which ones simply cost too much.

It is time to introduce “outcome-based” budgeting to State government, where programs are scored and retained on the basis of their effectiveness.  My cabinet will be told to identify which programs produce results, and to eliminate those that under perform.  A fresh look and consolidation are necessary in leading any large organization.

Another step to getting our fiscal house in order is to fight George Bush’s budget assault on New Jersey.

His anti-New Jersey budget cuts would end all Amtrak service in the state; throw 20,000 New Jerseyans off Medicaid; slash homeland security block grants by 30 percent; deny after school programs to 33,000 kids; and increase prescription drug co-pays for veterans.  Altogether, his budget cuts would cost New Jersey over 300 million dollars next year.

I am a leader in fighting these cuts.  And last week Senate Democrats, joined by a handful of Republicans, managed to scale back draconian Medicaid cuts, although we will continue to face stiff opposition in the House.

While we need bold ideas and a willingness to fight, we also need something more basic: good information.

As a businessman, I never would have made an investment in a company without first understanding its finances top to bottom.  That understanding can only be reached with honest and complete information.  I will bring that same kind of thinking to fixing our State’s finances.

In a Corzine administration, we will conduct a careful, bipartisan analysis to uncover the true fiscal situation in the State.  This is not a Democratic or a Republican issue, and I’m not interested in a political exercise.

So I will put together a group of experts from inside and outside government to scrub the numbers in every area and every agency, from revenue projections to entitlements to trust funds.  With this honest picture of the State’s finances, we will level with our citizens and forge a consensus for a comprehensive, long-term solution to the State’s fiscal problems.

In the Senate I won hard battles to ensure the honesty, transparency and accountability of corporate financial reporting.  In the same way, I will make sure that the finances of the State are honestly and regularly reported.  And as Governor, I will hold state officials personally accountable for the honesty and accuracy of their financial reports.

Among the new measures, we will certify revenues twice a year rather than once: the first time when each new budget is enacted, and again in January after the close of the calendar year.  This will keep government honest and help us avoid spending more than we’re taking in.

We will also upgrade the depth and the quality of the State’s capacity for economic and fiscal analysis.  It is unacceptable that we don’t know the economic impact of State policies, or when it comes to taxes, who is paying how much.  Bad data lead to bad decisions.

We must also move forward with installing a common technology platform for all State agencies.  This platform will be fundamental to organizing the good data for good decisions.

I ask, would it surprise you to know that there exists nowhere in State government a complete list and current appraisal of all State assets…or that you would get a different head count of State employees depending on whether you ask the Office of Management & Budget or the Department of Personnel?

It will take a modest investment to fix all this, but the investment will pay off many times over.

I said earlier that as a CEO, I never lost track of the bottom line, but always kept a steady eye on the long term.  It is now time to impose that same discipline on our State finances.

We can start that discipline by submitting a two-year budget every year to the State Legislature.  And included in that budget will be five-year projections for spending and revenues.  Most government programs don’t start and end in a single year, and we shouldn’t budget as if they did.

And multi-year budgeting for operating State government must be accompanied by an equally sound, but separate, capital budget.

A separate capital budget for investment in hard assets, like roads and schools, will not only help us identify new savings, but will allow us to plan and finance ahead for the long-term needs of the state.

And perhaps more importantly, we’ll make sure that capital accounts aren’t raided to pay day-to-day operating expenses.  That’s what’s happened with the Transportation Trust Fund, among others.  You know – we might actually be paying for snow removal with money that was intended to be used for bridge repairs.

That kind of fiscal arrangement was bound to fail, is failing today, and has to stop.

Further, the state has assets worth billions – from racetracks, to highways, to valuable real estate.  The proceeds from the sale or lease of any of these assets should be used for only one of two purposes: to pay down existing debt, or to finance new capital investments in higher education infrastructure transportation networks.

We should reposition our assets the same way that successful companies or individuals would rebalance their asset portfolios to create growth and revenue.

To help us do that, we need real capital planning.  The state’s Capital Planning Commission has been ignored for years.  Most people don’t even know what it does or that it exists.  I’ll change that as Governor.  We will recruit the best talent from the private sector to bring an entrepreneurial view to managing our assets.

This Commission will:
– inventory and value all state assets,
– create, update and recommend capital plans,
– and rank projects by returns for prioritizing and financing purposes

It will conduct a full inventory every year.  It will appraise the revenue stream from state assets, and the costs associated with maintaining and financing them.  This will be done for the assets owned by State Authorities as well as those owned and managed directly by the state.

We should never again take a state asset and use it for a one-time quick fix.

The value locked inside our state’s roads, rights of way, surplus lands and buildings is a key to revitalizing our transportation, education, and our job-creating businesses.  And we will use these assets to unlock New Jersey’s future.

Finally, from day one as Governor, I will instill cost-control discipline in all agencies of State government, from the cabinet departments to the independent State Authorities.  My administration will bring Management 101 to Trenton.

So much for the green eyeshade stuff.

While cutting the cost of government, we must aggressively grow New Jersey’s economy and create good-paying jobs.

We must forge an unprecedented partnership between the public and private sectors: business, labor, government and educational institutions working together as serious partners to make this state a world leader in research, information technology, and new investment.

The best way to help our workers is to create the new jobs of the new economy.  The best way for the state to expand its revenues is to grow the economy.  As the cornerstone of this effort, I intend to propose for voter approval an Edison Innovation Fund to support research and development, technology transfer, and job creation.

Funding priorities will range from nanotechnology to telecommunications… from renewable and clean energy to stem cell research… from food technology to genomics and R &D for both national defense and homeland security.  And this should happen in every part of the state, south and north:  from Einstein Alley to Camden’s universities and colleges.

The Edison Innovation Fund will leverage additional private sector investment and research funds from the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies that support research and development. And New Jersey will seek shared ownership of patents and use the returns to replenish the Fund.

Initiatives aside, here’s a fact that should concern us all: New Jersey’s growth rate in nearly every technology sector is lagging the national growth rate.

For example, New Jersey’s pharmaceutical sector has declined as a share of the national economy over the past ten years, while in Massachusetts it has grown at a rate of 10% per year.

We know what New Jersey’s economy was half a century ago — heavy on manufacturing items like cars, textiles, and industrial chemicals.  Times have changed.  We need to be thinking about what New Jersey’s economy will look like in five years, in twenty years, and in fifty years.  We need to imagine a new economy and then get to work to make it happen.

New Jersey has to stay competitive.  And more than that, we have to lead.

In addition to the Edison Innovation Fund, I will plan to create new job opportunities at our ports, both north and south.  In today’s advanced economies, logistics are the fastest-growing manufacturing sector of the 21st century.

New Jersey’s ports are the lifeline for this nation’s economy and our link to the world economy.  It’s time we redoubled our efforts to make them a lifeline for New Jerseyans looking for good jobs and the chance to get ahead.

As governor, I will spearhead the Liberty Corridor Port Development and Trade Zone to convert brownfields into warehouse and light manufacturing space, and develop a special purpose road and rail network to ease port-related truck traffic.

And every company who ships its goods through New Jersey should have headquarters or administrative offices in our state.  Some should be encouraged to build their products here rather than ship through here.

Next, we know New Jersey tourism generates 30 billion dollars in spending and 2 billion dollars in tax revenues to the state each year.  But we’re in the bottom fourth of states when it comes to investing in the promotion and development of tourism.  The Jersey Shore, Atlantic City, and our American Revolution history can compete with any destination across America if we tell our story right.

We need a New Jersey Tourism and Travel Commission responsible for finding ways to increase tourism through promotion and working with the private sector.  And instead of neglecting our state parks, we must invest in their health so they become a magnet for future growth.

At the same time we have to strengthen New Jersey’s vital agricultural industries.  They keep the Garden State, Jersey Fresh, and their future is vital to the diversity of New Jersey’s economic engine.

As governor, my job will be to create good jobs, in multiple market sectors all across our state.

And that’s why I will locate an Office of Economic Growth right in the Governor’s Office. It will take over the responsibilities of the Commerce Commission.  The Director of Economic Growth will report to and work directly with the Governor and the cabinet.  Expanding New Jersey’s economy will be at the top of my agenda.

– By this effort, we will attract additional global investments to New Jersey and build international trade relationships.  It is time for this state to have a full-time foreign trade representative and trade office, to bring investments to New Jersey so we become a leader of ‘insourcing,’ not a victim of the opposite.

– We will coordinate the work of our high schools and higher education institutions to foster workforce development in growth areas of health care and technology.

– We will expedite the use of State and federal resources to help the unemployed and workers in transition to get the training to get back to work.

– We will ensure that infrastructure investments enhance the economy while we preserve open-space and protect our environment, which in fact, is one of New Jersey’s greatest economic assets.

– We will make our cities and inner-ring suburbs centers of economic revitalization – by establishing an Urban Investment Bank to pool resources from private institutions and investors, for equity investments as well as loans.  We will focus the investments on small businesses, which will be assisted by incubators at our research universities again like the successful one here at NJIT.

And in all of this, we will place special emphasis on the development of small businesses and women- and minority-owned firms.

Today, there are dozens of separate economic development programs in at least 16 different agencies.  We will consolidate them into one powerful Economic Development Authority a pattern of consolidation that we will implement all across state government   and potentially beyond.

As I close let me be clear:  What I’m proposing today is a fundamentally different approach to state government.  It’s time for New Jersey to stop stumbling from one financial crisis to another.  Instead, it’s time to do the hard work of creating and shaping our future.

My vision is built on basic business principles and on an abiding faith in the talent and hard work of our people.

We have the energy, the opportunity, and the resources to make New Jersey a leader in the global economy, the results providing us the means to invest in education, health care and our infrastructure.

I come to our state’s governance with a different set of experiences, and I intend to be a different kind of Governor.  I intend to move our state from the pattern of tax, borrow and spend to a new paradigm of grow, invest, and lead, in the economy of the 21st Century so that our people can prosper in today’s fast-changing world.

Thank you.

Campaign Kickoff

3/30/2005

The following remarks were delivered in both South and North Jersey, with different introductions recognizing the various attendant luminaries.  To read the introduction made in the South, click here.  To read the introduction made in the North, click here.
3/30/05

Almost five years ago, I left private life to fight full time for the causes and the people I believe in the hardworking people of New Jersey.  I understand that I have been blessed in my life.  I’ve had the benefit of a loving family, good public schools and the strength and support of my community.  I started at the ground floor of a great American business, worked hard and made my way to the top.

I know the American Dream.  And I want everyone to have the same shot at that dream I have had.  That is why I entered public life, and that is why I am running to be your next Governor.  I embrace the timeless imperative: To those to whom much is given, much is expected.

When I was CEO and leading Goldman Sachs, it was rated by its people as one of the 10 best places to work in America.  Working together, we can make New Jersey the best place in America to grow up, to go to school, to work, to start a business and to grow old with dignity.

Together, we can set a new standard of excellence that offers every hardworking New Jersey family access to America’s promise.

I am running for Governor so I can lead a government that provides the people of New Jersey value for their hard-earned tax dollars and respect for the values that hold us together.

I am running for Governor because I have the leadership experience of managing one of the most successful businesses in the world and developed the necessary negotiating skills to succeed in the U.S. Senate.

I am running for governor because I have a vision for New Jersey as a world leader in the new economy an economy that can create new businesses, good-paying jobs, and expanded opportunities for New Jersey’s future.

I am running for Governor because I believe it is my responsibility to fight to make certain the most vulnerable among us are not forgotten in the challenges of our time.

I know I must take on these challenges and fights where I think I can do the most good.

I believe that place is here.  I believe the time is now as the next Governor of this great state.

When the people of New Jersey first elected me to the Senate, I promised they would get a fighter who would stand up for them against insiders and the special interests — unbought and unbossed.  That’s exactly how I have served.

Against strong resistance, I joined with the 9/11 families to get the 9/11 Commission established.  Against stiff opposition, I am fighting to make the chemical facilities scattered across our state safe from terrorists, and to get New Jersey’s fair share of homeland security funding.

Together with colleagues from New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, I fought successfully to protect New Jersey’s seniors by protecting our prescription drug program PAAD.

I won corporate reforms that protect small investors from corporate abuses — and we are now holding cheating executives accountable.

And I won funding to protect thousands of acres in the New Jersey Highlands from overdevelopment.

Now, more than ever, the challenge of restoring credibility and confidence in government falls on those who ask for the public trust.  Those of us in public life must earn that trust by our actions.

I accept this challenge, because I know it’s the only way we can hope to build a future reflecting the best qualities and high standards most New Jerseyans carry forth in their own lives.

I pledge to be a Governor who is independent, principled, fiscally responsible, socially progressive and effective.

I pledge to serve you – the people of New Jersey not my friends, not my party, not myself.

I know what it takes to create jobs, to scrub a budget, to meet a payroll and to make tough decisions about the right investments for the long term.

When I announced my candidacy in December, I pledged a campaign of substance rather than slogans a campaign of ideas rather than insults a campaign of straight talk, not false promises.

But some who are competing to be our Governor are running a different kind of campaign.  They are running a campaign of division, while failing to address the most fundamental issues of ethical and fiscal responsibility.

Some have taken a page from the Karl Rove playbook and are attacking me personally.  First, they attacked my support for charitable causes.  Then, they attacked my support for the Democratic Party.  And lately, they’ve even attacked my mother.

So, let me now put my opponents on notice.  Swift-boat-like attacks have no place in this campaign and they will be rejected by the people of New Jersey who care more about their families and their future than political make-believe.

Let’s be clear: I make no apologies for building the Democratic Party here in New Jersey and across America.   I believe my party most often works to help our citizens families squeezed by rising taxes and health care costs; families squeezed trying to provide the best education for their children; families concerned about the safety of their communities in an uncertain world.

I make no excuses for promoting the progressive agenda which I believe improves people’s lives — my only regret is that I cannot do more.

More than ever, we need a strong Democratic Party to stand up for New Jersey and working Americans.  We need to stand up to the Bush administration’s budget assault on New Jersey: its cuts to homeland security, education, Medicaid, veterans benefits, affordable health care, Amtrak, and clean air, clean water and sandy beaches.

We need a strong Democratic Party to create quality jobs, protect Social Security, defend collective bargaining, and to preserve our precious environment.

And we need a strong Democratic Party so that New Jersey is led by leaders focused on solutions to our toughest problems, rather than those who would neglect them.

Let New Jersey voters not forget that the reality of dishonest budgets started long before 2001, or that pay-to-play had its origins in the ill-fated, no-bid contracts with EZ Pass and the Parsons debacle.  Let us remember that the DMV was once a 3-letter epithet before Democrats addressed it — and fixed it.

Let me repeat — campaigns should be about the future your future and your family’s future.  And if you will help me, we will make this campaign just that.

It is time for a leader who comes to state government from a different experience: someone who is not encumbered by an old culture, historic entanglements, and the status quo.  It is time for new leadership, and a new commitment to integrity, effectiveness and vision.

That is why my first speech of this campaign was about restoring the highest ethical standards to government at all levels.

Common sense dictates that once we re-open government to everyone, we will also re-awaken opportunities to grow our economy and create good-paying jobs for this generation and others to follow.

Just last week, I introduced an entirely new approach to economic and fiscal policy: an approach where we end the paradigm of tax, borrow and spend — and replace it with a new strategy of invest, grow and prosper.

The people of New Jersey know it is time to bring the best business practices to state government: outcome-based budgeting, 21st century management, long-term planning, and new investment initiatives for our people and infrastructure.

To that end I have proposed the Edison Innovation Fund to support research and development, technology transfer and job creation.

I have proposed an Urban Investment Bank to support small businesses and entrepreneurs in our cities and ring suburbs.

And I will invest in the development of our port regions – in south and north Jersey – taking full advantage of New Jersey’s geographic position as a corridor of commerce.

We will give new emphasis to promoting travel and tourism, taking full advantage of the Jersey shore and our state’s rich history as the crossroads of the American Revolution.

We will give new life to our agricultural industries.

And we will create a full-time foreign trade representative so that New Jersey becomes a leader of insourcing — instead of a victim of the reverse.

My vision for New Jersey is based on basic business principles and on an abiding faith in the talent, creativity and capacity for hard work of our people.

The best way to end the squeeze on New Jersey’s workers is to create new jobs in the new economy.  And the best way for the state to expand its revenues is to grow our share of that economy.  New Jersey has to stay competitive.  But more than that, we must lead.

My friends, I am trying to demonstrate my new approach to governing by offering a different kind of campaign.

This will be a campaign of substance and not slogans.  It will be a campaign of ideas, not insults.

I want to encourage every person in New Jersey who cares about our future to find their way into the Corzine campaign.  I want to hear their ideas, as well as they hear mine.

And I want to carry on a conversation with the people of New Jersey from this day, and every day, until Election Day.

That is why I have asked Congressmen Pallone and Holt, along with Blair MacInnes, to lead a new campaign to solicit everyone’s ideas, everyone’s participation and everyone’s hard work.

This new effort will be called Corzine Connection, and you will find it on the web at Corzineconnection.com.

Anytime of the day, wherever you may be, and whenever you are inclined, go online and get involved.  Join a meetup, blog on the issues, volunteer your time, send a contribution, or follow the path into the Corzine campaign.  It is exciting to give everyone a chance to speak their mind and get involved.

The future of New Jersey and the future of the Democratic Party will be built on the entry of new people and new ideas into politics, into campaigns, and ultimately into government.

We have at our disposal, every ingredient and opportunity to improve the quality of our state and its future.

We have one of the most diverse ecosystems anywhere: a combination of highlands, farmlands and the Jersey shore.

New Jersey is the connecting corridor in the most vibrant region in the world where seaports, airports, rail lines and roadways converge to serve the economic needs of regional, national and international commerce.

We were the crossroads of the American Revolution, and today we are on the frontier of the new economy.

We host several of the most respected public and private higher education institutions in the world.

We are home to some of the fastest growing industries in the world: pharmaceuticals, medical devices, health sciences, biotech, and financial services.

And we are home to one of the most diverse, best educated, highly skilled and most ambitious populations in the world.

So let me close with this thought — Robert F. Kennedy once defined leadership simply as “inspiring others to exercise their best qualities.”

As your Governor, that is exactly what I intend to do.

With your help and your dreams, we will together tap into those best qualities and build a brighter future for New Jersey and all of her people.

Thank you.

Ports Initiative

4/25/2005 Port Elizabeth

PLAN: Creating Good Jobs at Good Wages

His plan for leveraging New Jersey ports is available here.

In March, I unveiled a new approach to economic growth in New Jersey to move our state beyond the failed pattern of tax, borrow and spend to a new paradigm of grow, invest, and lead, in the economy of the 21st Century so that our people can prosper in today’s fast-changing world.  As I said then, that prosperity depends on making strategic investments throughout our state, including right here at Port Elizabeth as well as our Delaware River ports.

Last year the volume of cargo passing through New Jersey ports shattered all previous records.  In 2004, more than $110 billion worth of goods passed through the Port of New York and New Jersey, beating the mark set in 2003 by a healthy margin.  That number represents major exports of wood products and plastics, and major imports, including furniture, electrical machinery, and coffee.

Every sign suggests that the flow of goods through New Jersey will continue to increase on into the future with massive new post-Panamax ships and exploding Asian markets.  In fact, the port-related workforce is expected to double over the next few decades through natural growth alone.

That’s why the harbor dredging and deepening project Congressman Menendez, Senator Lautenberg, and I have provided Federal money for, is so elemental to the continued growth of this economic asset.  The challenge for New Jersey policymakers now will be to capitalize on this momentum to propel broader economic development for the region and create even more jobs in our state.

As Governor, I will make expanding and accelerating the development of the port and related industries a top economic priority.

Over 100 million people 40 percent of the United States population live within a one-day drive of New Jersey.  Our companies should be handling every aspect of the flow of goods into and out of the northeast, from importation and warehousing, to distribution and logistics.  Our workers should be doing the work that businesses need like re-packaging, assembly, and customization to bring their goods to markets.  And our companies should be handling more of the logistics work, a booming industry in its own right which handles the procurement, transportation, transshipment, and storage needs of upstream and complementary businesses.

By ramping up our activities and building on the tremendous work already undertaken in this area by Congressman Menendez, New Jersey can provide one-stop shopping for businesses that use our ports.  The Liberty Corridor concept that Congressman Menendez has championed will have a full partner in Trenton with respect to its implementation.  The concept is based on a simple yet powerful business strategy: vertical integration.  That’s when the entire supply chain from producer to end user is managed by a single decision-maker or company.  But for New Jersey, it will mean that our ports will be the first step onto a New Jersey assembly line of services and value-added manufacturing that ultimately delivers goods to customers throughout the northeast.

As other port communities like Savannah, Georgia, have shown, vertical integration can unlock economic potential, create high quality jobs, and grow state revenue.  Let me emphasize: grow state revenue.  In Savannah, vertical integration has helped make it the fastest growing container ship port in the country.  For too long, New Jersey has been exporting economic opportunity.  When trucks leave Port Elizabeth for Pennsylvania or Maryland or Delaware, they don’t just haul away cargo.  They haul away jobs.

Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley has witnessed a tremendous expansion in its logistics industry.  Major distribution centers have sprouted up along the I-78 corridor on former greenfields in places like Allentown, Bethlehem, and Harrisburg only to have goods reshipped back into our metropolitan region.

By converting former industrial sites near where we stand for productive use and investing in critical rail and road infrastructure like the ExpressRail initiative and the Portway project — we can put an end to that unnecessary drain on our economy and attract those businesses to New Jersey.  Businesses that already use our ports will be able to make their operations more efficient and more profitable through consolidation.  They can house import, distribution, and logistics operations at one location.  In the process, we will position this trade corridor as a fully integrated hub one-stop shopping for all aspects of global commerce: from design to logistics.

For example, Michaels the chain of arts and crafts stores trucks its products from our port to a distribution center in Harrisburg.  There’s no reason that Michaels can’t prepare its products for distribution closer to where their products come to shore employing workers in Newark or Carteret or Bayonne.  And the same goes for scores of other companies who add to traffic, pollution, and their own costs by shipping the goods out of state for finishing and warehousing.

The urban areas that surround this port have some of the highest levels of unemployment in New Jersey.  They have watched our state’s manufacturing base dwindle, an industrial sector that long provided high paying, blue collar jobs.  Just last Wednesday, the last Chevy Blazer rolled off the assembly line at GM’s plant in Linden.

After years of outsourcing, it is time for this state to become a national leader of “insourcing.” By increasing activity at our ports and in related industries, we will create high quality jobs jobs that bring good salaries and benefits where they are needed most.

My ports initiative provides an opportunity to create solid, good paying blue-collar jobs to replace those lost in the manufacturing sector.

·        New jobs on the docks for longshoremen, truckers, and mechanics.

·        New jobs running major distribution facilities that warehouse goods for retailers throughout the Northeast.

·        New jobs in repackaging, re-labeling, and customizing imports.

·        And new value-added, light manufacturing jobs assembling and finishing furniture, computers, medical devices, and more.

According to projections, for every million square feet that the state converts for use in import-related activities, more than 1,000 jobs will be created.

Within ten miles of where we are standing, there are at least 2,500 acres of brownfields that sit dormant or underutilized.  Those brownfields represent real estate that companies can use for job-creating activities like repackaging and light manufacturing.  By converting those contaminated lots, we can generate as many as 60,000 new port-related jobs.

But it goes beyond just brownfields.  Anyone who’s driven down the turnpike has seen the empty ship containers that are stacked up by the thousands near our ports.  These containers accumulate because it’s cheaper to make new ones than to ship the old ones back to Asia.  As an aside, they also stand as testament to our failed international trade policies.

If elected, I will sit down with leaders from the container industry to explore ways to promote more productive land use where these containers are stored.  And I will look at the approaches adopted in other cities grappling with the same problem, some of which are state revenue producers.  New Jersey should be known as an innovator in port development, not as a giant parking lot for rusting containers.

As Governor, I will focus on revitalizing nearby tracts of land so that businesses will turn to New Jersey for every aspect of international trade.

I will make improving the roads and rails here an important priority so that we will be an even more attractive location for companies that already use our ports to access the eastern seaboard.  Again, we need to keep moving forward with projects like ExpressRail, which will increase the capacity of our freight train network and facilitate faster movement of products through our ports.  And we need to advance and expand the New Jersey Portway project a series of dedicated port roadways to relieve congestion and give trucks easier access to our ports and highways.

Within the new Governor’s Office of Economic Growth, I will establish a trade representative charged with showcasing the unique advantages of operating in New Jersey to attract new businesses and grow New Jersey’s export economy.

If we can find resources to keep professional sports teams in New Jersey, we can find the resources to attract business, bring new revenue to the state, and make New Jersey more affordable.

As Governor, I will marshal critical investments from the private sector, the Federal government, the Port Authority, and other agencies around a unified vision for port expansion and integration.  As part of a broader approach to regional transportation, I plan to sit down with governors from neighboring states to devise a comprehensive strategy for our ports.  Working together, we can get important things accomplished for the region, like the ARC trans-Hudson rail tunnel.

The principles underlying my vision for the Port of Newark and Port Elizabeth apply with equal force to the ports along the Delaware River.  In the coming months, I will flesh out a specific action plan for using the South Jersey ports as an engine for economic progress and job creation.

New Jersey was the crossroads of the American Revolution.  Now, we need to make sure that we are at the crossroads of the 21st Century economy.

Our state is the connecting corridor in the most vibrant region in the world where seaports, airports, rail lines and roadways all converge to serve the economic demands of regional, national, and international commerce.

If I am elected governor, I pledge to capitalize on the success of our ports to help set a new standard of excellence that offers every hardworking New Jersey family access to America’s promise.

By implementing a comprehensive regional plan for economic development focusing around our ports, we will welcome new businesses to our state.  Connected by an improved rail and road network, our port economy will be seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the local and national economy.  Formerly unused industrial sites in Newark, Elizabeth, Bayonne, Perth Amboy, and beyond will teem with new economic activity.

And most critically the hardworking people of New Jersey will have high quality jobs that enable them and their families to enjoy the high standard of living for which our state is known.

Thank you.

Richard Stockton College Commencement Speech

5/9/2005

Good morning Stockton graduates of the Class of 2005!
It is truly a pleasure to join you on this happy and pivotal day in your lives.

Thank you President Saatkamp for that warm introduction and for the invitation to present this commencement address.  I’d also like to thank the Board of Trustees, the distinguished faculty, staff, honored guests, graduates, and families for welcoming me to campus today.

Congratulations to Andrew Buetel, your valedictorian, on your thoughtful speech.

I’ve been looking forward to delivering this year’s commencement address and providing the class of 2005 the opportunity to get a solid fifteen or twenty minutes of sleep.
As the cartoonist Garry Trudeau once observed: “Commencement speeches were invented largely in the belief that matriculating college students should never be released into the world until they have been properly sedated.”

I’ll try to invalidate that proposition but I fear this may be fundamental law of nature. We’ll see…

I’m especially pleased to address this year’s seniors. We have a lot in common  —
I too am looking for a new job.

In all seriousness, it’s a great honor to share this day with you.  Collectively, you pulled all-nighters and worked part-time jobs.  You ate cold pizza, and you drank warm beer.  You studied Classical Greek and some participated in Greek life.  You battled sleep and occasionally even made it to your 8 o’clock classes.  You found time for workouts and rehearsals, games and plays, chemistry labs and political protests.
Your energy, your hopes, and your hard work have made Stockton College a thriving and vibrant place to live, to learn, and to grow.

Today, Stockton College is truly a higher education institution recognized for its excellence it is a national asset.

Some of you earned straight A’s.  Others…Well, let’s just say you didn’t get elected to Phi Beta Kappa.  But all of you earned the right to walk across this stage today.

Along the way, all of you have made your families proud. And you’ve made Stockton College proud. To all of you new graduates, congratulations on a job well done.

Now, let me take a moment to acknowledge the families of the class of 2005, the people here today who are smiling the most.  Without your sacrifices and support, this moment would not be possible.  From reading “Green Eggs and Ham” for the fiftieth time to double-knotting shoelaces to organizing SAT study groups — you made it happen.  After more than twenty years of holding your breath, Mom and Dad can finally breathe a sigh of relief.  The kid is finally paid for.

So to the parents and families, you deserve a warm round of applause.

But today is about the graduates who now leave this outstanding liberal arts college and who, for decades into the future, will shape the life and character of our neighborhoods, New Jersey, and our nation.

The diploma you receive today comes after more than a decade and a half of schooling. Take a moment, let it all sink in.

I think your parents and mentors will agree: rarely in life are things wrapped up as neatly as they are today.  It’s not often that your achievement is memorialized on parchment or tied up in a bow.  That may be why people get their diplomas framed; it’s one of the few moments in our lives when success can be reduced to a single piece of paper.
After college, there are fewer moments of official acknowledgement for your aspirations, little certification of your successes, and no diploma for your achievements.

As they years unfold, your own values will be your North Star.  Or to make that expression a little more current your values will be your Mapquest.

In the future, no one will be making sure that you establish meaningful connections with your community and the wider world.  And no one will be peering over your shoulder to ensure that you hold to high standards or search for excellence.  In the future, your grader will most importantly be you.  And if you make the grade, sometimes, only you will know.

Success, particularly in those areas that matter most, will be defined by the standards you set for yourself not those imposed by others.  Not even those suggested in a commencement speech.

The best I can offer are some thoughts drawn from my own experience.

In 1969, I was sitting where you are sitting today.  Not literally of course; Stockton College wasn’t yet built.  But I was receiving my college diploma, listening to the brilliant New York Times Columnist James Reston, and honestly, knowing I didn’t have a clue of what life had in store for me.

In the years since, I know I have been incredibly blessed.  I have lived the American Dream.  I’ve raised three terrific children.  I started at the ground floor of a great American company, worked my way to the top, and retired as its CEO.

And then five years ago, I was elected by the people of New Jersey to serve them in the United States Senate.  I was the 1,965th United States Senator of this great nation to be sworn into that honorable body.

To say the least, the last 36 years have been surprising to me, full of chance, opportunity, and setbacks. My years have been filled with moments of great satisfaction, challenge, and personal fulfillment.

Graduates you too have an exciting adventure in the days and years before you.
Embrace it and keep your perspective. Recognize your blessings.

For me, in both my business life and in public service, one of the most important things I’ve learned through all of this is that no one succeeds alone.

It may surprise some of you to hear that from a politician. The political scientist David Mayhew made his name by arguing that elected officials get ahead by claiming sole credit for things that they didn’t do, or at least didn’t do on their own.

From my perspective, I can’t do that because I know that others deservedly share the credit for what I claim as my success.  I’ve worked hard; I feel I have brought something to the table and I’ve had the opportunity to make a difference.  But I also have been lucky in the best sense of the word. I benefited from terrific public schools, grew up with the strength and encouragement of my family and community, and profited from the wisdom of able mentors, teachers, and colleagues like those here at Stockton.

Each of us, at each stage of life, owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to a community of individuals and institutions that have paved the paths of our journey.

During the next few weeks, make sure you take a moment to thank those who led the way for you and made your accomplishments possible your professors, your friends, and, most importantly, your family.

But don’t let it stop there.  It’s not enough to express your gratitude in words, no matter how heartfelt.  And while flowers might be a nice touch, that’s not what this speech is about.

Trying to thank all who helped bring you to this day isn’t humanly possible.  Some are far away from here, while others have long since passed away. They include the long brave lines of freedom marchers who broke down the barriers of segregation and sexual discrimination.  Leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Margaret Sanger.  And so many who enlisted with them whose individual names you may never know, but whose acts of courage have made a profound impact on our society and your lives.

And this goes on in different ways even today with citizens who stand up for our civil liberties our free press, our religious freedoms, and the right of free speech. And think of the citizen soldiers who today serve and sacrifice in far away lands.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, I traveled to Iraq and met with young Americans and brave New Jerseyans many of them no older than you who are doing their best to do what’s right in the most difficult and deadly of circumstances.   All for us.  All with relative anonymity.

Instead of a gesture, the way to honor the contributions of those who have changed our country and those who defend it contributions often made at great personal risk is to ask what you can do in all acts large and small to make better the life of your world.

I subscribe to the timeless imperative: for those to whom much is given, much is expected.
I hope you will be subscribers as well.

Each of us has been blessed to live in the United States in this time and place. As a consequence, each of us has a responsibility to the community and the common good. We feel this instinctively when we see and respond to epic disasters like the tsunami or the plight of a single child in a small town whose family cannot afford the cost of a life-saving operation.

Sometimes the notion of American individualism may appear to conflict with other distinctly democratic American values like justice and equality.  But in the end, the conflict has been most often resolved in favor of what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.”

Because from the beginning, America has been not about individuals acting alone and only for themselves, but choosing to come together to form a more perfect union, a commonwealth of ideals that unite us, and progress not just for some, but for all.

Individual allegiance to shared purpose is what makes any enterprise successful a company, a movement for social change, or a country.

In the last few years, we have been inundated with stories of those who turned aside from basic obligations to community and to justice in corporations from Enron to WorldCom.  And in our own state, we’ve seen how the costs of political corruption have effectively levied a tax against working families struggling to afford the costs of living – of buying a home and raising a family here in New Jersey.

Our state government needs to be reformed; it must serve our citizens, not exploit them.  It must set and meet high standards of honesty and strive to advance prosperity and fairness for all.

But government by itself cannot alone bring justice or mandate the character of its people.

It can, however, be an expression of our values; it can be an instrument of our purpose.  But no political regime can be a substitute for personal commitment.

As Hubert Humphrey once said: “The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbor.”  Law can and must end discrimination, enforce equality, widen opportunity, and provide a social safety net.  But no law can guarantee the decency of each person or the connectedness of all.

Instead, we as individuals must come to terms with our own capacity and responsibility to make a difference.  President Bush has called for an “ownership society.”  I, too, believe in an “ownership society.” But for me, that means a society where people take ownership of their lives and their communities take ownership of their responsibilities as a society.
And it means a society where people balance their personal achievement with their obligations to the greater community good.

Striking that balance is a deeply personal choice.  As I noted, I’ve experienced public and private life, and I’ve found joy in both.

The world is filled with wonderful opportunities to succeed and to contribute.  For some, civic participation will take the form of volunteerism or philanthropy.  For others, the route will be issue advocacy or politics.

Public service should be for all, even those in private life and public service should be informed by a simple truth: failure is a lonely undertaking, while success is a shared endeavor.

The more we realize that our individual success or failure is linked inextricably with the condition and aspirations of others, the more likely we are to triumph over the array of challenges facing us in our own cities and states, and in the nation and the world.

Before my two days in Iraq, I visited Sudanese refugees in Chad on the border of Darfur, Sudan and saw the evil face of genocide.  I witnessed the unspeakable suffering inflicted on millions with civilians in the Western Sudan subjected to a coordinated campaign of rape, murder, and displacement sponsored by their own government.

Even today, few people can find Darfur on a map.  I admit I had never heard of it before this horror unfolded.  That’s something I know the student activists in Stockton’s chapter of Students Taking Action Now for Darfur (S.T.A.N.D.) have been working to change.  And I truly applaud those efforts. Your voices are being heard in Washington.

If we could save the sick and starving children I met in the refugee camps, I know we would.  But the truth is there are so many maybe two million children and adults there whose pain should touch our conscience and our hearts every day.
In fact, people’s lack of knowledge about Darfur is not the great cause of our inaction; the cause is a form of voluntary paralysis, a lack of urgency in the corridors of power in Washington and in Africa.  But I believe, as students here do, that citizens can stand together and demand a different course.

I’m not here to ask you to dedicate yourself to Africa or foreign policy.  Bono delivered that commencement speech last year at the University of Pennsylvania.  And, if I’ve learned one thing in the last five years or so as a politician, it is that a politician should never, absolutely never, try to compete with a rock star.

But I am here to say that when confronted with a Darfur, none of us can be silent.

I am here to oppose the bystander syndrome the insidious social disorder where people tune out their surroundings and act like spectators in their own communities and their own world.  And it is not just in Africa, but in all public endeavors, that we need people determined to overcome defeatism and the easy helplessness of negativity the sense that there is nothing that can be done for our schools, or our cities, or attacking global warming.

While individual and collective action doesn’t guarantee success, indifference and inaction does guarantee failure.

What is happening in Darfur today is one of the most daunting and least addressed tragedies existing in the world today.  But progress is possible even there.  Just before I left for Sudan, Senator Sam Brownback and I managed to get the Senate to endorse a series of bipartisan initiatives aimed at quelling the violence and ending the genocide.  Only time will tell if these measures coupled with the brave and selfless work being done by thousands of aid workers will be successful, but there are reasons for hope if we as a people, a country, and an international community are prepared to help.

And if we can move forward in Darfur, we will prove that we as a society can meet and master other great challenges, here at home and far from home.
As Margaret Meade wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Forty years ago, America’s streets resounded with the peaceful promise:  “We shall overcome.”

Then as now, this depends on individuals realizing that they have a personal stake in the future of their community and the tools to achieve meaningful change.  That change will come through community service, public engagement, and political participation. And it will start on our college campuses, in our neighborhoods, in our houses of worship, at local boys and girls clubs and most importantly at the ballot box.

You will decide how to lead your lives; you will choose how to serve or contribute.  That’s the advantage of the freedom we enjoy here in America.  But on this joyous occasion a day when your success will be acknowledged again and again I hope you will hold on to the idea that no one in this world achieves anything alone.

In life, we need to invest ourselves to repay all those people who opened the way for us.  And the only way I know to do that is by helping others find America’s promise and stand up for our shared hopes and humanity.

Thank you once again for welcoming me to campus and for listening.  Have a wonderful day and after the ceremony, a great party. May you be blessed with good fortune in your life’s endeavors.  God bless you, and God bless America.

More Accessible, More Affordable Health Care for New Jersey

5/23/2005
Plan for Accessible and Affordable Health Care

Thank you for joining me here today at this great institution of excellence, which has been nationally recognized for its efforts to improve patient care and reduce costs.  Virtua and the Virtua System represent the best in American health care.

I want to particularly Richard Miller, the President and CEO of Virtua Health, for his kind words, and for his effective leadership of this institution.

I’d also like to thank Ken Thorpe, Professor and Chair of the Department of Healthy Policy and Management at the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, and experts at the Center for State Health Care Policy at Rutgers, a number of hospital administrators, consumer and public policy advocates, as well as my staff, for all their hard work in preparing the policy proposals.

Before I begin, let me say I acknowledge that it is going to be a long presentation, but tough problems don’t lend themselves to short speeches or sound bites.  And if you want to fix a problem, you have to recognize it and all of its complexities.

Now – five months ago I became a candidate for Governor.  I said that I was running to build a better life for everyone in New Jersey.

I said I wanted this campaign to be about us, not about me; about the people of New Jersey, not about insiders; about progressive ideas, not divisive politics

And I pledged that over the course of this campaign I would offer positive ideas on the challenges and opportunities facing this state.

Today’s address is about one of New Jersey’s greatest challenges: affordable health care.  This is the third in a series of broad-based policy proposals — and, I’ll remind you that all of my policy speeches are posted on my web site, corzineforgovernor.com.

In February, I outlined a comprehensive ethics reform proposal to root out pay to play at every level of government. I made clear that I will be an independent Governor who will make decisions on their merits — not to satisfy entrenched interests, or gain their contributions or their favors.

In March, I provided a detailed action plan to replace the old politics of tax, borrow and spend with a new strategy of invest, grow and prosper.  I focused on critical investments to stimulate economic growth through the Edison Innovation Fund, a Ports Initiative for Good Wages, and expanding New Jersey tourism.

And I emphasized this strategy is not just about bricks and mortar, but about the most important asset of all human capital.  We must invest not only in creating jobs, but in building careers.  And we must make New Jersey one of the best places to live, to raise children, to go to school, to work, to start a business, and to grow old with dignity.

And, in June, I will outline my plan to improve the quality of life for the senior citizens.

But today, I want to focus on our health care system a system that should be an accessible and affordable reality for every family in our state.

Recognizing whether it’s health care, property taxes, education or gas prices, the central focus of the next Governor should be to make living in New Jersey more affordable.

When your child or your parent is sick, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you can afford the doctor’s visit, the medication, or the operation your loved one needs but unfortunately, too many people in New Jersey live with that worry every day.

This is a case where social justice is also an economic imperative:  While leaving the broken health care system the way it is has an enormous human cost, it also stands in the way of our state’s ability to invest, grow and prosper.  Businesses need to be able to afford health care benefits for employees and need a healthy, productive workforce.  As a businessman, I know that solving this health care challenge requires new thinking.  I understand that through small investments and by redirecting resources, we can make New Jersey’s health care system more accessible, and more affordable.  We can do the right thing, and we can do it without large additional expenses.

According to the most recent statistics, New Jersey has the highest medical insurance costs in the nation.

This makes it hard for families but it also makes it harder to attract capital, to grow companies and gain high-paying jobs.

According to the most recent survey, New Jersey family premiums are 11 percent higher than the national average. To make matters worse, we are paying much more than our neighboring states.

As a result, the average premium for New Jersey families is more than $13,000 a year — which is nearly $1,700 dollars more than our Pennsylvania neighbors pay and $1,000 dollars more than in New York.

Past investments in the state’s health system have yielded enormous dividends. Three decades ago, our people drove to New York and Philadelphia for cancer treatment.

Today, New Jersey is home to great medical institutions, with health dollars reinvested in our economy and with quality care provided near our homes and families.  For instance, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, is one of just 39 hospitals that the National Cancer Institutes designates as a comprehensive cancer center the nation’s highest, most prestigious recognition.

That said, there is a crisis in health care that confronts not just our state, but every state, every business, and the entire nation: it is not just a moral issue, but also an increasingly critical economic issue as costs spiral out of control.

When I was the Chairman of Goldman Sachs, it was rated one of the 10 best places to work in America.  We respected our employees, we expected excellence, and we rewarded it.  And we believed in the basic principle that health coverage was right for our workforce and good for our business. In the 2000 Senate campaign and in the U.S. Senate, I’ve fought to expand coverage — yes, universal coverage — and to get costs under control.  But today, the Republican leadership in Washington has blocked national health care reform, and actually made things objectively worse.

Recently I led a bipartisan fight against President Bush’s 15 billion dollar cut in Medicaid. We stopped 5 billion of that cut, but President Bush got 10 billion of his cuts which for New Jersey, will slash 240 million dollars over five years, and could deny health care for almost 100,000 New Jersey children.

In Washington, the challenge is to limit the damage do no harm.  In New Jersey, it is to move forward.

The arena for real health reform has shifted to the states, to local government, and to businesses like General Motors — which are now seeing their credit rating downgraded primarily because of the exploding costs of health coverage.

So, I have come here to this state-of-the-art health facility to focus on what we can and must do, in New Jersey, about the urgent issues of coverage and cost.  Let me set the marker down.  Let me establish a real goal, a real agenda.

Taken together, the policies I propose will, in the four years of the next Governor’s term, make access to affordable health care available to 95 percent of New Jersey citizens, and cut costs for families 10 percent below what they otherwise would be.

These goals are aggressive and I know people in this room and my friends in the media will hold me accountable to them if I am elected.

I welcome the challenge and look forward to partnering with New Jersey’s outstanding health care industry, business and labor leaders and consumer advocates to make it a reality. It will be a team effort an effort that will position New Jersey to lead, grow and prosper.

We cannot wait for Washington or others to respond.  We must take the responsibility, and we must act.  First, we need to ensure that children, families and pregnant women in need have access to health care.

It is unacceptable that despite New Jersey’s wealth, not only are 264,000 children uninsured, but 200,000 who qualify for FamilyCare or Medicaid remain uninsured.

Many have suggested reasons why 200,000 children who qualify for FamilyCare and Medicaid are not enrolled like the state isn’t spending enough money on outreach and assistance, or that parents are less likely to enroll their children if they themselves cannot enroll.

These are real issues, but the situation is unacceptable and we have to change it.  In Virginia, Governor Mark Warner made full enrollment a priority and he’s made dramatic progress.  We will too.

The time is now to provide universal access to health care for ALL New Jersey children and pregnant women.

In addition, we need to provide access for parents whose children qualify for FamilyCare.
Under my plan, every enrollee will pay an affordable premium based on their income.  At most, it will be approximately half the cost they’d pay to buy health care on their own.

And here is what this means for New Jersey’s working families:

? For families of four, with incomes up to $68,000, all children will continue to be eligible for FamilyCare. As Governor, I will launch an aggressive outreach campaign to enroll all those children.

? Families of four with incomes above that level can buy-in to cover their children.  They will pay about 130 dollars per month, no matter the number of children in the family.  That’s approximately half of what they’d pay to buy health coverage for their children in the individual marketplace.

? All pregnant women will be able to enroll in FamilyCare. Premiums will depend upon their income. In the Senate, I championed covering pregnant women and their children with the “Start Healthy, Stay Healthy” initiative and I look forward to making it a reality here in New Jersey.

? All parents of children who qualify for FamilyCare will be able to “buy-in” and cover themselves at half the cost they’d face if they bought health coverage in the individual marketplace.

And we’re going to put the “family” back in FamilyCare by offering, for the first time, family packages for adults and children that will bring costs down even more.

Senators Joe Vitale and Tom Kean Jr., Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg and Assemblymen Neil Cohen, Herb Conaway and Bob Morgan have worked hard to advance this bipartisan agenda over the last several years, and I will work with them as Governor to get the job done.

This doesn’t just affect the families who sign up.  The fact is, every taxpayer, and business across New Jersey, is paying for health care for the uninsured.

Taxpayers are now shelling out 582 million dollars a year to compensate hospitals for those who don’t have coverage “charity care.”  Over and above this, New Jersey residents and businesses face a hidden “premium” tax of 7 percent on their private insurance to pay for uncompensated care.  In effect, the people of New Jersey are paying for the 1.2 million New Jerseyans who do not have health insurance.

Everybody knows it, and it’s time to do something about it.

Further, most insurance companies currently drop dependants at age 19. As most families realize, many young adults cannot afford the high rates in the individual market and parents are left to worry about their adult children getting sick, leaving them footing the bill. So, another initiative I will put in place will require insurance companies to allow parents to buy coverage for their adult children up to age 30.   Nearly a third of the uninsured are in this 19-to-30 age group.

This is an issue where Senator Nia Gill and Assemblyman Neil Cohen have led the way.  Together, we’ll get the job done.

We also know the system requires a safety net.   I am proud of the work I’ve done in the United States Senate to bring more funding for community health centers in low-income, high-need areas.  Just recently a clinic in Lakewood, New Jersey was approved.

Last year, 20 federally-qualified centers served over 289,000 families in New Jersey.  For all of their great work in diagnostic and preventive care, they must be attuned to the economic and cultural realities of the communities they serve. They have limited hours and stretched resources.  In short, we need more of them with community-sensitive policies.

In addition, we will launch cooperative efforts with our community hospitals to provide community health services.

The partnering of community health clinics with a local hospital as executed by AtlantiCare in Atlantic City has enormous benefits for controlling costs and providing care.  Working with our community hospitals, we will greatly incentivize these partnerships, getting people out of the emergency rooms and into clinics for primary care.

Now, expanding access is only part of the solution. We also need to make health care more affordable for those who already have insurance.

Most New Jersey citizens get their health care from their employers.

There are many reasons why health care costs for these citizens and their employers continue to skyrocket:  costly medical errors, duplicative tests, unnecessary paperwork, health insurance fraud, poor preventive care, prescription drug costs and chronic illness.  And we may even be over-regulating the health care market.

In the absence of universal health coverage, we must address each of these issues incrementally, and if we do, we can lower average costs for New Jersey families and businesses ten percent below what they otherwise would be.

First, we can and we will tackle costly errors, duplicative tests and unnecessary paperwork.

More than one of every four dollars spent on health care in New Jersey doesn’t pay for doctors or treatment — it pays for administrative costs.  That totals 15 billion dollars a year.

The Medicare program has shown that we can keep administrative costs as low as 2 percent.  Meanwhile, private HMOs administrative costs approach 20 percent. When the government is beating HMOs by 18 percent, we know something is wrong.  In short, we need to rein in the costs of health care middlemen.

The Center for Information Technology estimates that approximately 20 percent of medical tests are ordered a second time simply because previous results get lost and can’t be found.

I could go on with other examples, but suffice it to say that billions of dollars are spent every year that simply have nothing to do with the delivery of care — in fact, one could argue that these layers of bureaucracy and inefficiencies harm care.

Just as we want our education dollars to go the classroom and not the bureaucracy, we must and will see to it that health care dollars stay in the doctor’s office and don’t slip away to HMOs and insurance companies.  By using modern technology to process medical claims, my New Jersey Health Care Technology Initiative will improve care and reduce insurance costs by approximately 100 dollars per year/per person. By the end of the term of the next Governor, insurance companies who do business with the state will handle all claims, referrals and other paperwork electronically. The Veterans Administration does it, and we can do it.

Next, we must — and we will — expose and reduce a second hidden tax all New Jerseyans pay in their health insurance premiums “the fraud tax.”

The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association estimates that 3% of all health care costs can be attributed to fraud.  That means New Jerseyans pay $1.5 to $2 billion a year for health care fraud.

Other estimates by government and law enforcement agencies place the loss as high as 10 percent a year which means fraud could cost as much as $5 billion to our state.

If I am elected Governor, I will put out an “all points bulletin” on health care fraud.

I will make sure that the state’s anti-fraud programs are the toughest and most comprehensive in the nation, including a hotline that we will actively promote the public’s participation in checking this insidious abuse.

We will also create new incentives for doctors, consumers, and businesses to report fraudulent billing, and we will dedicate all fines and penalties for fraud to expanding access and reducing health costs for New Jersey citizens.

At the same time, we can and we will reduce rising prescription drug costs.

As we address this issue, it is vitally important to remember that our state is often called the “medicine cabinet” and “the Cure Corridor” for the nation.  New Jersey is home to some of the best health care companies and the best R & D in the world.

I am committed to partnership and collaboration with the pharmaceutical and biomedical industry, which are foundations for the state’s economic future.

Here in New Jersey, our fellow citizens have researched and developed path-breaking health innovations, technologies, and medicines. We should be proud of them. Pharmaceutical companies and their employees have revolutionized health care and saved lives.

And my plan to invest, grow and prosper for New Jersey’s economy includes investing with the pharmaceutical and biomedical sector.

But we must also face the reality that this state is in the red and the burden of prescription drugs on state spending is 1.6 billion dollars and growing.  The same programs cost the state 1 billion dollars five years ago.  The state, like the private sector, has experienced double-digit annual increases that are unsustainable in the long term.

To make matters worse, New Jersey has the lowest use of affordable generic drugs in the nation.

My plan to address rising prescription costs is specific and sets me far apart from the Republican candidates.

? We will reduce state and private prescription drug costs by dramatically increasing the use of generic drugs, where medically appropriate.

? Generics can cut costs by 25 to 80 percent, and the savings will make a real difference, not just for the state budget. Given co-pays and the new Medicare Part D plan — our taxpayers can’t afford a 41 percent generic utilization rate in state prescription drug programs when other states have increased the use to 60 percent.

? We will further reduce costs by consolidating the state’s different programs that buy prescription drugs and negotiating the best prices.  For example, Plendil, a high-blood pressure drug, costs uninsured Americans $2.37 per pill, while the Veterans Administration pays only 46 cents.  We need to make sure New Jersey is getting the 46-cent price.

Next, we must also provide better care for people with chronic illness.

Ten percent of New Jerseyans with health insurance today account for 70 percent of total health care spending.

If these chronically ill individuals receive better health care and we prevent repeated hospitalizations, we will reduce average insurance premiums for everyone, by more than 100 dollars per year per person.

Specifically, I propose setting up a pilot program to create common-sense voluntary programs within existing health plans to ensure those with chronic diseases get the right kind of care.

Specific, tested best practices and protocols will be applied to meet individuals’ needs whether you have congestive heart failure, kidney disease, diabetes, or asthma. Each plan will establish clinical performance measures developed by professional societies like the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association.

A Rand Corporation study has found that patients get the recommended care only about 55 percent of the time.

Common sense and the best research show that by providing better care, individuals with chronic conditions will be hospitalized less with a corresponding reduction in costs.

We also know that the best health care is to keep people from getting sick in the first place.  Holistic approaches to health care are necessary to that end.  I support dramatic reductions in the air pollution that sends urban kids every summer day into our emergency rooms, and consigns seniors to premature death.

Specifically, I am committed to the passage of the New Jersey Smoke-Free Act to protect the health of all New Jersey citizens, and to the reduction of particulate pollution from diesel emissions, as well as serious enforcement of the Clean Air Act.

To reduce costs, we simply must promote preventive medicine and healthy lifestyles.

Today, many HMOs and insurance companies invest too little in these critical areas.  Why would an HMO seek to prevent heart disease in an 18 or 28 year old when he or she is not likely to have a heart attack until age 50 or 60 and when that same individual is likely to switch their health insurance company five or more times over their lifetime?

This cycle must end for our state to control health care costs.  We must change the incentives.

I will also promote a comprehensive healthy lifestyle program ranging from adopting strong school nutrition standards, to addressing child obesity, to creating school fitness report cards for every child.

Additionally, we urgently need to lower health care costs for small businesses and we will.

Small businesses in New Jersey are a fragile linchpin in the health care system, covering almost one million of our people, but leaving behind hundreds of thousands.

Small businesses like the Armand Corporation, owned and operated by Barbara Armand with 40 employees, want to do the right thing and offer health care to all their employees and their families.

But every day it gets harder to do that. The double-digit inflation in health care premiums is outright unaffordable.

Barbara previously offered her employees family coverage. Last year, as premium increases soared, she was forced to switch to providing only individual coverage.

Barbara and one of her employees, Stewart Balfour, are both here today.

Barbara and Stewart, would you please stand up . . . If I am elected Governor, we will help you and we will help all small businesses do the right thing.

We will offer coverage of catastrophic cases to reduce your health insurance premiums.  And we will provide long-overdue regulatory relief in the small business market.

For instance, we will allow small employers to design their own plans rather than imposing a state-mandated “one-size-fits-all” approach.

I will also explore, with all the appropriate stakeholders at the table, whether New Jersey insurance companies should offer a “mandate-free” or “mandate-lite” insurance product. While all mandates are well-intentioned, their collective impact can price many New Jerseyans out of the health insurance market.

And for small businesses with 25 or fewer employees not currently offering health insurance, our reinsurance plan, called “Healthy NJ,” will reduce premiums by at least 10 percent.  It will again provide incentives for preventive care in insurance coverage. More than 72,000 New Jersey small businesses will be eligible for this program — that’s 98 percent of all small businesses in New Jersey that do not offer health insurance today.

And just like a small business, as Governor, I will be focused on the bottom line.  In light of the state’s poor fiscal condition, we simply must be focused on that bottom line.  And the simple fact is, we can provide health care to hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens, and reduce costs, without increasing the burden on taxpayers.

The proposals I have outlined will be funded with federal dollars, through better management of existing health care expenditures; they will save money by doing more with less, and acting sooner instead of letting individuals’ health problems grow into acute concerns.

The resulting savings literally will total billions of dollars.  So, my health plans require an up-front investment of no more than 15 million state dollars.  The resulting savings would well be literally, billions.

Finally, there’s something else we all need, no matter what coverage we have or lack:  We must make health care safer for patients.  All the rest of our progress will be meaningless if the health care system doesn’t make us healthier.

In one recent survey, New Jersey ranked 43rd in the nation in health care quality.

If I am elected, New Jersey won’t ever be 43rd again.

To deliver better care, our hospitals and doctor’s offices need — and I will make sure they have — the technology that will limit medical errors.  There is no longer an excuse for a patient getting the wrong medicine because the orderly can’t read the doctor’s handwriting.

We also have to increase the number of primary care physicians so our doctors are treating the whole person.

We also need to ensure that doctors and patients not HMOs — make medical decisions.  We have to give doctors and consumers more rights and information to challenge HMOs when they deny care, and stop medical providers from billing consumers with unfair charges.

We can’t ignore the increasing frustration of doctors with HMOs and insurance companies. Medical decisions must be in the hands of doctors and patients not claims processors.

As Governor, I will be an advocate for doctors and the state will enact new protections to enable doctors to focus on giving the best care, instead of fighting with insurance companies over administrative issues.

Last Friday, I spoke to the Medical Society of New Jersey on the issue of medical malpractice and my proposal to buttress recent reforms in Trenton with a professional screening of cases before they go to court, thereby reducing the probability of frivolous lawsuits.

And, in putting patients first, we will protect the privacy of medical records and strengthen the penalties for violating them.

But there is a different kind of transparency that we urgently need in our health care system. We must require large companies to disclose the number of their employees who are in low-income government health programs.

New Jersey taxpayers should know which corporations are shirking their responsibility to provide health care coverage and sticking taxpayers with the bill.  It is unacceptable that some of the largest and most profitable corporations in our nation are living off the taxpayer-funded safety net.

And in good conscience, no health care policy can ignore the shameful inequality in health care coverage for minorities.

In New Jersey, 23 percent of African Americans and 28 percent of Latinos whose health is at greater risk from a host of illnesses – lack any health insurance, compared with ten percent of white residents.

Many of the initiatives I have offered today will help reverse this inequality.

But we must do more to identify and solve the problems derived from health disparities.  I will make it a priority for state government to partner with providers, with New Jersey companies and nonprofits, to identify and solve health disparities.

I am proud of my successful efforts to secure $1.3 million in federal funding for the Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities at UMDNJ’s School of Public Health.  The Institute has used this funding in part to support research to study the levels of lead in Newark Children, while implementing corrective policies.

Another building block for quality care is staffing.  We must, once and for all, address New Jersey’s shortage of health care workers.

My administration will work with UMDNJ, Rutgers, and community colleges to expand career training for a range of health care positions — from billing and claims processing, to scientists and laboratory technicians, to nursing and physician specialties.

If we are the “cure corridor,” we need the human capital developed in our colleges and universities to develop and apply the latest cures.

And as we discuss the future of health care in New Jersey, there is one final issue about which I want to be very clear.

I want to make it clear on one “long-term” debate the potential conversion of Horizon, the state’s largest insurer, to a for-profit company. I am absolutely opposed to any effort to use “windfalls” from the Horizon conversion to fill a state budget gap. If I am elected, this state will not sell assets for operating expenses whether it’s the Turnpike or our state-sponsored health insurer.

Prior to any application from Horizon to convert, I will not prejudge the actual merits of a conversion, except to say that if Horizon proposes it, I will ensure that New Jersey consumers are protected, and any proceeds from the change will be used only to expand and improve health care in New Jersey, just as the tobacco settlement should have been.

Today, I have set out the principles and proposals of my health care agenda.

Yet what I have offered is not an end, but a beginning, of taking the necessary incremental steps.

There are many health care perspectives that are important to the people of New Jersey that I have not addressed.  It is a complex subject.

Rest assured, I will have a lot to say and we will have a lot to do — about other issues like the need to ensure that seniors have long term care and the choice to stay in their homes with their families, addressing AIDS and HIV prevention and treatment, the continuance of Acting Governor Codey’s mental health policies, and advancing progress in diagnosing and treatment of diseases such as autism, childhood diabetes, spinal cord injury and many others.

If we meet the goals I have outlined here today, a healthier New Jersey will be in a position to grow and prosper while reducing the burden on state taxpayers. My plan means fewer families forced from having to resort to emergency rooms, it will put money back into the pockets of working families and help keep our businesses thriving and growing.

Again, my goal is to make access to affordable health care available to 95 percent of New Jersey citizens, and cut costs for families 10 percent below what they otherwise would be.

When I announced my candidacy last December, I said I was running for Governor because I believe in community and concern for each other.

I am determined to lead a state government that gives citizens value for their hard earned tax dollars and respects the values that hold us together.  This state must be on a path to greater affordability.

These challenge and the values I hold are what brought me into this campaign and led me to these ideas. They will guide me in the months ahead, and — with the support of the people of New Jersey they will guide me in the State House every day for the next four years.

Thank you.

Primary Night Speech

6/7/2005

Thank you.

New Jersey Democrats, friends, and supporters.

Are we battle ready? Are we ready to for the fight for the New Jersey we believe in?

Tonight is our third Election Night together and – so far – we are three-for-three.

But the real challenge is November – four for four. ARE YOU READY?

Let me be clear – from every perspective in my life — the most important thing I’ve learned, is that no one succeeds alone.

So, in this fall’s election, we will win, if we are TOGETHER — Assembly candidates – citizens — activists — young and old – labor and business — black, brown and white.

All of us must spread the word — present the vision — and work together to win in November.
Thank you all for your friendship — your counsel, and your prayers – thank you for your helping hand – but let’s be clear you’ve only just begun!

I need your help over the next 153 days.

Governor Rendell – you’re a terrific leader — honorable, active and progressive — full of ideas and energy – an inspiration to me and so many. Thank you for being here.

Some of you may even remember that Ed was the mayor of Philadelphia, which I like to think of as one of the more important suburbs of Cherry Hill.

And – I AM counting on you to carry Ocean City.

Governor Codey, for all you do, let me express my gratitude to you as a citizen and as a Democrat for your courage, your integrity and for the strength you’ve shown making the tough decisions for the last 6 months as our governor.

I look forward to partnering with you in the years ahead making our efforts in Trenton work for all the people of New Jersey.

By the way, Governor, over those 153 days, no sweets, no sodas, just carrots and raw meat.

Today, the Republican Party has chosen its candidate for Governor.

I congratulate Doug Forrester for his victory and look forward to a competitive and issue-focused campaign.

I also want to thank James Kelly and Frances Tenaglio for their positive participation in our primary.

But, let me repeat what I have said so often. I’m not running for governor to oppose any individual . . . I’m running for governor to build a better life for eight and a half million New Jerseyans.

I’m not running for governor as a reaction to what OTHERS have said or done. . .

I’m running for governor for what I can do.

I’m running for governor to lead a state that gives citizens value for their hard earned tax dollars and respects the values that hold us together.

I’m running for governor because the future of our state doesn’t belong to those who seek to do business, or practice business as usual.

The future of New Jersey doesn’t BELONG to those who use politics as a lever for power, influence, or money.

The future of New Jersey belongs to its people. And it is time for power in this state to be returned to the people.

Since you’ve made me your U.S. Senator – whether it was standing with the families of 9/11 in their tragedy – or fighting to strengthen homeland security,

…whether it is protecting New Jersey’s prescription drug benefit from cuts imposed by the Bush Administration, or fighting their ideological scheme to privatize Social Security…

…whether it’s keeping arsenic out of our drinking water, or preserving New Jersey’s beaches, Highlands or open spaces…

…whether it’s been cracking down on corporate fraud — or reforming corporate governance…

I haven’t been anybody’s Senator — but yours.

And tonight — I make you this pledge: I won’t be anybody’s governor, but yours.

The people of New Jersey have shown time and again that we are —
-strong in the face of adversity,
-compassionate to those most vulnerable,
-innovative in pursuing solutions to challenges,
-and creative in pioneering new industries and opportunities.

New Jersey deserves a government as strong — as compassionate — as innovative — and creative as its people.

That said — our people — must be joined by a government that is honest and honorable.

Unless we end the culture of corruption that has plagued this state — we won’t
-bring down the cost of government,
-hold down the burden of taxes on our citizens,
-or expect people to trust public officials to make tough – but fair – choices.

That’s why I’ve called for a complete ban on pay-to-play at all levels of government.

That’s why I’ll fight to
–stop pension-padding
— establish an elected state comptroller
–and save taxpayers’ money by cracking down on fraud, pork-barrel spending and backroom deals.

Together let’s fight to shine the light of truth into the halls of Trenton.

The people of New Jersey deserve straight talk and honest numbers.

The people deserve a Governor who can solve problems instead of a candidate who talks about them – and then – runs away from solutions once elected.

As everyone knows — one of the biggest challenges facing our state is that while the benefits of living here are incredible, the cost of living is as well.

We need to make New Jersey – not just the wealthiest state in America — but a far more affordable place.

That is why throughout this campaign my priority will be promoting what I call —an “affordability agenda.”

To make life more affordable for New Jersey families, we need to get our fiscal house in order and build the right economic climate for job creation in the 21st century.

As Governor, I will replace the “failed model” of tax, borrow and spend and replace it with a “new strategy” of invest, grow, and prosper.

I will cut waste — increase efficiency — reform the state’s budget process — and co-invest in industries and technologies –ncluding embryonic stem cell research — that are vitally important to our future health and prosperity.

We need to grow high wage jobs… and when I’m Governor — creating jobs won’t be just the focus of an agency or “line B” in some program.

It will be my mission, my passion because jobs and economic growth will be the foundation of our future and the hope of our families.

Consider, right now, in New Jersey, we are paying nearly the highest medical insurance rates in the nation – the average family in New Jersey is paying almost $1,700 more in premiums than neighbors in Pennsylvania, and $1,000 more than our neighbors in New York.

Unacceptably, 1.2 million of our fellow New Jerseyans go without any health insurance.

Tragically our uninsured receive their health care at a moment of crisis — at the highest cost — in our hospitals’ emergency rooms.

To challenge these realities – I have offered a plan that will — in the next four years — make affordable health care available to 95 percent of New Jersey citizens — and cut costs for families 10 percent below what they otherwise would be.

I also plan to campaign to make college more affordable – so a young person’s chance in life will be determined by his or her talent and dedication – not tuition and fees.

Let Republican politicians support George Bush’s privatization of Social Security, and prescription drug programs that shortchange New Jersey’s seniors.

Let Republicans support the Administration’s misplaced priorities that would slash Meals on Wheels, college loans, Head Start, and Amtrak.

Let me tell you — I WON’T!

Instead — I will campaign to make life better — and — more affordable for our seniors — our students — and our families.

Finally, let me pledge this:
I will NOT offer an unfunded — short term hope and a prayer on property taxes.

I will offer a REAL property tax plan
– a responsible direct rebate to middle class New Jersey families, and seniors
–a rebate that will increase 10% each year over the next four years.

New Jersey has had enough of over-promising and under-delivering!

Going beyond rebates, I will work for a Citizens’ Convention — to find a permanent solution to the unfair property tax burden that homeowners across this state can no longer afford.

My campaign will be specific;
–It will be substantive;
–And every step of the way, the test will be: — how can we provider a higher quality of life for all of New Jersey at a more affordable price?

I urge all of you to check out the details of my “affordability agenda” at CorzineforGovernor.com. And I invite people to get connected, get involved by going to CorzineConnection.com.

Friends, I know I’ve been fortunate in my life.
—I was born into a strong and good family
— attended quality public schools,
—started on the ground floor of a great American business
—worked my way to the top,
—and I’ve had the incredible honor to serve all of you in the U.S. Senate.

I’ve truly lived the American dream – and now I want to work to make certain, everyone in New Jersey has the same shot at that dream — I’ve had.

And now – I ask all New Jerseyans
– Democrats, Republicans and Independents –
-I ask all who believe that New Jersey can do better and must do better — to join me.

With our victory, it will not be my governorship …
It will be your governorship.

Working together we will draw on the best among us, while we challenge ourselves to DO our best.

The future for our children,
–the health of our parents,
–and the character of our state are on the line.

Let us join together to fight the good fight!

The key is together.

Again — thank you all for your past support — but most importantly for your future efforts.

To my great staff and volunteers ——-celebrate tonight! Have fun.

Work starts tomorrow -7 a.m. sharp at Metropark in Edison.

Remarks at the New Jersey Business and Industry Association

6/14/05

Good evening everyone. This is a terrific turnout, I hope to see more of this. It will be great to have a great dialogue with the people of New Jersey,

I wish you good health, in the next few months, Doug. I thank you, Phil, for your kind introduction and I appreciate, as I’m sure Doug does, the BIA hosting this traditional kickoff of the campaign.

Actually, Doug, I’m surprised anyone showed up. I don’t know whether you skimmed David K’s column in the Sunday New York Times and his comments on yours, and my, communication skills — or lack thereof. I expected tonight to be a big bust – a no-show night. In case any of you missed it, David’s perspective was, and I quote “Both men are so charisma-free that their televised debates are likely to be as compelling as the Christmas special featuring a daylong close-up of a burning Yule log.”

Actually, I love Yule logs. I think you can all agree, I’ve found that the best way to light one is by crumpling up the Metro section of the New York Times.

Go figure – after such a compelling endorsement for our ability to communicate, there’s five or six hundred people here tonight. Not bad. Thank you all for coming, I appreciate it.

In fact, tonight the room is filled with many of the most accomplished and driven people of New Jersey.

Individuals from business, backgrounds of all sort– manufacturing, finance, retail, pharma, and others.

I even a saw a Democrat in the back of the room.

I know, I know: BIA isn’t partisan. You are about growing the state’s economy and making New Jersey a business-friendly environment.

I’m certain you believe, as I do, that our state’s most serious financial challenges — whether rebuilding our schools, improving our transportation network, or providing tax relief — will only be met if we sustain a strong and expanding state economy. I know, like you, when we invest in human and physical capital, empower entrepreneurs, and create good paying jobs, we lay the groundwork for a strong economic and bright future.

All of us want a government that acts as a partner in that effort — NOT a government that looks at businesses as a problem or a target.

That is why in Washington, I fought for business-friendly legislation allowing repatriation of offshore capital, providing for terrorist insurance, pushing the repeal of the onerous AMT tax and expanding transportation dollars for projects across the state.

I appreciate that instead of fighting red tape and heavy handed regulation, you want an economic climate that allows the companies of today and the businesses of tomorrow to grow and flourish.

Believe me, I’ve been on the other side of the table and I always wanted a partner, not a bureaucratic robot.

After all, you should have an ally in the statehouse – a governor who knows what it takes to promote and sustain growth: a rising tide that lifts all boats – the rowboats as well as the supertankers.

Let there be no mistake: I will be that governor.

Taking on the challenges that we face is why I want to be your governor.

I repeat, I am not seeking to be our state’s CEO to oppose an individual…I’m running for governor to build a better life for eight and a half million New Jerseyans.

I’m running for governor for what I can do — or maybe more appropriately, what we can do, together.

I’m running for governor to lead a state that gives each of its citizens value for their tax dollars, and respects the values that hold us together.

Working together, we need to make New Jersey, not just the wealthiest state in the nation, which we are — but a state that is far more affordable, accessible, and honorable – providing real support for the people and the businesses that are the foundation for our future.

Like you, I understand the challenges that men and women in business face every day:

  • the challenge of gaining and holding the respect of your employees;
  • the challenge of being held accountable to a bottom line, and a competitive return on capital;
  • the challenges of achieving excellence and sustaining a reputation through time;

And most important, I understand the challenge of leading an organization that is committed to providing a quality product for clients and customers.

The lessons I learned in leading a great financial institution, Goldman Sachs, have helped me frame my public policy perspectives.

We followed a business principle at my old firm, very simple: “the client always comes first.”

In public life, the people MUST always come first.

This principle has led me to promote an “affordability agenda” — a comprehensive plan to grow our economy and bring down the costs of living and the cost of doing business, in our great state.

My “affordability agenda” starts with a commitment to economic growth. After 30 years of business experience, I’ve learned that growing the economic pie is a heck of a lot more fun than fighting about how you divide it.

The former is a productive, dynamic exercise; the latter is static and often destructive.

As Governor, I will replace the failed policies of tax, borrow, and spend — an approach that has cost our state dearly for more than a decade – with a strategy of invest, grow, and prosper: a strategy to keep New Jersey competitive in the 21st Century. A strategy that will nurture fledgling companies, upgrade our workforce, and create new jobs.

Promoting economic growth will be my personal mission if I am elected your next governor. And to that end, I have also offered the concept of the “Edison Innovation Fund.”

This initiative will be funded by a series of voter approved bonds to be repaid with state-retained patents, royalties, and equity holdings.

We will partner with our leading academic institutions in this great state and New Jersey’s businesses to expand basic and applied research in the environmental sciences, the life sciences, including embryonic stem cells, nanotechnology, and defense production.

My Edison Initiative, paired with strategic investments in New Jersey’s ports and logistics infrastructure in the northern part of the state and in Camden, and in the tourist industry, can drive high wage job growth for decades.

I ask you to go to CorzineForGovernor.com for the details.

If experience is any guide, growing the pie with new jobs and expanding profits will increase revenues and make additional resources available without raising taxes.

As I said, when I led Goldman Sachs, I kept track of the bottom line, while keeping a strategic eye on the long term.

It is now time to bring that dual perspective to our state’s operations and financial affairs.

That’s why I will introduce “outcome-based” budgeting — where programs are retained based on their effectiveness, not political inertia or clout.

And I will institute capital budgeting and multi-year financial plans.

We cannot expect to make good decisions about New Jersey’s future in a hand-to-mouth, year-to-year budget process — one that mixes operating expenses and capital investments.

That said: new policies are great, but execution is always essential.

We can and we must do better in managing the day-to-day operations of state government.

Already, we’ve identified specific cuts of wasteful spending and inefficiencies. We’ll start with serious reductions of political appointees and public relations expenditures; we’ll institute competitive bulk purchasing practices in state procurement.

And over several years, we can net tremendous cost efficiencies by providing a common, upgraded technology platform for all state agencies and activities.

Reducing spending is a much more practical task than embracing a mantra of eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse – a cause universally agreed to.

Make no mistake – I’ll execute the former while endorsing the latter.

By promoting economic growth with specific spending cuts, we can reduce the burden of New Jersey’s property taxes and pay for it responsibly.

My plan increases property tax rebates for seniors and hardworking families a minimum of 10 percent each year over four years.

I think we all understand we need to provide responsible relief — without busting the budget and sacrificing other key priorities and services such as public safety, affordable education, PAAD, and Senior Gold to name a few.

Our property tax mess won’t be solved by slogans and sound bites by me or my opponent, or with programs designed for television and the campaign trail. Our challenge will be met with fiscal discipline, accountability and follow-through.

Employing sound business practices and making strategic investments will lead to good results, but only, ONLY, if people feel doing business in New Jersey is a fair deal.

I suspect Doug and I will agree: bringing down the cost of government, holding down the tax burden, and creating a favorable investment climate depends on ending the culture of corruption in this state and the embedded “corruption tax,” and holding down the cost of doing business.

In short, State and local government must be about serving the public, not about rewarding contracts or making money.

We cannot attract and retain new jobs or businesses in an environment that tolerates fraud, pork-barrel spending and backroom deals.

I never have and I never will!

To that end, I have offered a comprehensive approach to making government open, honest, and accountable.

  • I will institute a complete ban on pay-to-play at all levels of government.
  • I’ll end “wheeling.”
  • I will stop “pension-padding.”
  • I will establish an elected State Comptroller to provide an independent review of government spending and contracts — again at all levels of government — including, by the way, our independent agencies.
  • I will close the revolving door that lets public officials leave government service and sell their influence to the highest bidder.

And most importantly, I will set a clear and certain direction in the Governor’s office: that decisions and appointments will be based on merit, not connections and contributions.

Let me turn now to one of America’s most vexing problems, one of New Jersey’s most vexing problems, one that everybody is dealing with: the cost and availability of health care. This problem is undermining the well-being and strength of our businesses, as many of you know and have told me, draining the fiscal capacities of governments, and creating a desperate anxiety among our fellow citizens.

I’d encourage all of you, if you want to read a capturing reflection of what’s really happening in the lives of the individuals, the tragic story of Mr. Guido Osso presented in the Sunday’s edition of the Bergen Record. If you were ever to question the human pain and cost of our current, failed system, read that story.

If I had my druthers, our nation would enact, as I said in 2000, Harry Truman’s proposed “universal health care program.” But for the moment, we lack the will.

Instead, 1.2 million New Jerseyans are uninsured and line up at hospital emergency rooms and community health clinics or apply for charity care and Medicaid.

Thousands are under-insured.

Businesses, unions, hospitals, and state governments struggle to meet double digit hikes in health care costs.

That’s why I’ve proposed a comprehensive health care initiative to make insurance accessible for over 700,000 uninsured New Jerseyans — including children who now qualify for KidCare but don’t sign up; extending family coverage to 19 to 30 year olds; and easing the costs to small businesses.

The small business proposal, by the way, is, in part, based on ideas offered by the BIA for reforming mandates that price plans out of the market for small businesses. Again, you can go to CorzineForGovernor.com for details.

Now let me close by saying, I feel a special connection with the people in this room. We all have built a life in our competitive market economy – and we all know that the prosperity of our work is the foundation of a better life for our families and all New Jerseyans.

I’ve experienced that life firsthand.

I was born into a hard-working family — went to good public schools — started at the ground floor of a great American company — became its CEO — and I have been honored to serve the people of New Jersey in the United States Senate.

I’ve lived the American Dream. And I want everyone in New Jersey to have a shot at that dream.

But people cannot realize their dreams or their potential, unless we get the costs for families and businesses in New Jersey under control. We need to make New Jersey more affordable.

When I led Goldman Sachs, its employees rated it one of the ten best places to work in America.

Tonight, I make you this pledge: I’m committed to make New Jersey the best place in America to live, to build and to grow a business.

I will work with you. As your Governor, and I will work every single day to bring reality to this pledge.

Thank you all for being here. Let’s keep the dialogue growing throughout this campaign and I hope into the next four years.

But remember: keep the Yule logs burning.

Address to Democratic Convention

6/24/2005

Are you ready for Battle?

I am!

Are you?

Thank you New Jersey Democrats.

I’m honored to be your nominee. I’ll be even more honored to be New Jersey’s next Governor.

Let me begin by repeating something I’ve said before:

I’m not running for governor to oppose an individual…I’m running for governor so that we can build a better life for eight and a half million New Jerseyans – women and men; black, white, brown and Asian; all of New Jersey.

I’m running for governor to give people value for their hard-earned tax dollars and restore respect and honor to our state.

I’m running for Governor because I believe a progressive in the Statehouse can succeed while being fiscally and ethically responsible.

Fighting for the hardworking people of New Jersey is our cause – and that’s why Democrats will win in this campaign in our towns and counties, in the Assembly and in the race for the Statehouse!

Let me tell you about the campaign I will wage… and the state we will build together.

The first thing I pledge is that unlike Doug Forrester, my campaign will be about ideas not insults; about New Jersey’s future and not negative attacks..

We know our opponent runs campaigns that are ugly – so ugly that not even a reality show makeover can make them look good. Ask Bret Schundler.

In the Republican primary, the Forrester campaign turned off so many people that voter turnout was near the lowest ever.

Then, in his primary night speech, it took him 45 seconds before he started attacking me.

And we know what we will hear from him for the next four months – more of the same.

Today, he may have a bigger microphone, some high-profile visitors from Washington, and lots of money from Karl Rove’s far right political slush fund, but there’s a truth here that needs to be told:

No ideas and negative attacks won’t insure a single child or fill a single senior citizen’s drug prescription.

No ideas and negative attacks won’t create a single job – let alone a single high wage job.

No ideas and negative attacks won’t protect a single mile of New Jersey’s shoreline or clean up a single Superfund site.

Unless somebody thinks name-calling and guilt by association are teaching tools, no ideas and negative attacks certainly won’t educate a single child.

And let me add, you can’t clean up politics with a dirty campaign.

No — these negative attacks don’t tell you how Doug Forrester intends meet the challenges before us.

I believe it is time to put aside the politics of deception and smear – appeal to what is best in our people – and reach for a New Jersey equal to our best possibilities and hopes.

My entire life has been about making change and opening pathways to the future.

When the people of our state sent me from Wall Street to Washington, one of the first things I did was lead in the fight for tough corporate reforms.

Some people were surprised, because I had been a businessman myself.

But I believe that leadership – whether it’s in public office or at a private firm — is a position of trust.

Leadership means taking more responsibility, not less.

Bring new ideas and energy. Uphold the highest standards of honest and integrity. And create change and progress.

Whether it was breaking the glass ceiling for women or recruiting at historically black colleges when I was at Goldman Sachs, I have never been content to settle for things as they are.

Change is what we need in New Jersey right now. Change is what I will stand for, fight for, and achieve for New Jersey. And I ask people all across our state to join in this historic effort by signing up for our grassroots campaign at www.corzineconnection.com

Now, our opponent can’t bring change to New Jersey for at least two reasons.

The first is that he actually supports some of the things that most need changing.

Deficits… tax giveaways to the few… payoffs to prescription drug companies that push prices through the roof… rejection of collective bargaining, family planning and equal pay for equal work… opposition to embryonic stem cell research… refusing to close the gun show loophole — making it easier for assault weapons to get onto our streets…

We’ve seen this movie in Washington.

Does New Jersey want it to be the future of our state?

What George Bush has done in Washington is what Doug Forrester would do in Trenton. But he’ll never get the chance – because that’s not the kind of New Jersey the people of New Jersey believe in.

The second reason our opponent can’t bring change is because he has offered slogans, not ideas.

He likes to go around saying that he knows what the problem is.

I say: If you don’t have a solution – you are the problem.

It doesn’t take a genius to know property taxes are way too high. So he claims he has a plan.

But there’s a right way to provide property tax relief and a wrong way.

My plan cuts spending and it’s paid for… his isn’t.

My plan targets relief to senior citizens and middle class families who need it most… his doesn’t.

My plan puts rebates in the hands of the people not the politicians… his doesn’t.

Most importantly, my plan lasts. Do you know when his plan stops working? 136 days from today. That’s because my plan is permanent. His plan is about politics.

To coin a phrase, Doug Forrester is the wrong prescription for New Jersey.

Our campaign has been and will be specific. Our campaign has been and will be substantive.

Thanks to many of you, today there is more property tax relief in the State Budget. Over time, we can do more. We need to grow the rebates 10 percent a year for four years. It’s part of my “Affordability Agenda.”

We need to make New Jersey not just the wealthiest state in America, but a more affordable place to live.

That starts with getting our fiscal house in order and building the right economic climate for the job-creating industries of the 21st century.

I will cut waste, reform the state’s budget process, and invest in the industries and technologies that are important to the state’s future health and prosperity.

Right now in New Jersey, we are paying the highest health insurance premiums in the nation – the average family is paying nearly $1,700 more than our neighbors in Pennsylvania, and $1,000 more than in New York. 1.2 million of our fellow New Jerseyans go without any health insurance – including 265,000 kids. That’s wrong – and we’re going to change it.

My plan – over four years – will make affordable health care available to all New Jersey children and 95 percent of New Jersey’s citizens – and it will cut rising health insurance costs – by 10 percent [a year].

We will also make a college more affordable – so a young person’s chance in life will be determined by talent and dedication, not tuition and fees.

For full details on my affordability agenda, I ask the voters to go to www.corzineforgovernor.com. I want people to know where I stand – and the real differences in this race.

Let Doug Forrester support George Bush’s privatization of Social Security. I don’t.

Let Doug Forrester support George Bush’s prescription drug plan that shortchanges New Jersey’s seniors. I didn’t, I don’t, and I won’t.

Let Doug Forrester support George Bush’s call to slash Medicaid, college loans and Amtrak, and promote drilling for oil and gas off New Jersey’s beaches. I never have and I never will.

The whole nation is watching this campaign to see what New Jersey will decide.

Let’s send a message that we want a government that’s on the people’s side. And then let’s build a New Jersey that’s hopeful and affordable for our seniors, our students, and our families. The last thing this state needs is a junior version of the Bush Administration in Trenton.

And we also know that a government is judged not only by its accomplishments… but on how it acts – how it behaves.

Let me put it plainly: The culture of corruption has plagued his state under both political parties. Unless we end it, we won’t be able to bring down the cost of government, hold down the tax burden on our citizens, or ever expect them to trust public officials to make tough – but fair – choices.

The old position is simply unacceptable. The old ways will not do.

I have called for a complete ban on pay-to-play at every level of government – and I will win that fight as Governor.

I’ll fight to stop pension-padding, establish an elected state comptroller and save taxpayers’ money by cracking down on fraud, backroom deals and no-bid contracts. I’ll fight to close the revolving door that let’s state officials leave office and cash in on public service.

We must understand that while corruption, lying and cheating are personal failings, and not a partisan divide – Democrats can and must aspire to and deliver something better.

Change begins with us, and that is why I want to say to you, my Party, my family, — we must change. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard.

Those entrusted with public office have a responsibility to work not for themselves, but for the people – whether that office is governor or school board member.

That is why elected officials are called public servants.

And I will return the dignity and nobility of public service to this state.

Make no mistake. I will have a zero tolerance policy for those who betray or compromise the public trust.

The campaign ahead will be hard-fought.

It will be competitive.

And an opponent who is offering few solutions will offer many attacks.

We challenge him today to get off the low road to our state’s highest office.

And let everyone hear me clearly – I will not let false attacks go unanswered.

I intend to play fair, but I won’t hesitate to play tough.

I will be tough because the issues at stake are too important and the impact on people’s lives is too real.

We are the ones fighting to protect Social Security.

Dick Codey is the one fighting to assure people with mental illnesses are treated with care and compassion.

Our Senate and Assembly Democrats are the ones who raised the minimum wage, defended the right to organize, protected the New Jersey Highlands, reformed the child welfare system, and helped produce one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.

These are the things we have fought for and won.

And we’re going to make sure that progress is just a start.

From creating jobs… to reducing property taxes… to making health care and education more affordable… to cleaning up corruption: for all this and more, we have only just begun to fight.

New Jersey deserves a government as strong, as compassionate, as embracing, as innovative, and as creative as its people.

Thank you, and now let’s go out there and win this election.