It was about a year ago when New Jersey’s debt was downgraded for the sixth time since Gov. Chris Christie (R) took office in 2010. The announcement came soon after the Republican governor scrapped his state pension-reform plan.
Four months later, the Garden State was hit with another downgrade. Then another. Late yesterday, it happened yet again.
Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded New Jersey’s debt rating, dealing the Garden State its record ninth ratings cut since Gov. Chris Christie took office.The ratings drop by one notch, from A1 to A2, on $32.2 billion worth of bonds underscores the state’s “weak financial position and large structural imbalance, primarily related to continued pension contribution shortfalls,” Moody’s said in a statement Thursday…. Credit downgrades make it more expensive for the state to borrow money to pay for things like road improvements and school construction.
The agency warned that the state’s structural finances are in a precarious enough condition that future downgrades may be necessary.
Christie not only holds the state record for the governor with the most downgrades, he holds a comfortable lead in this ignominious competition against his next closest rival.
In the larger context, I don’t doubt that the governor will kick off his presidential campaign soon, but I’m honestly not sure what he’ll say.
State pension reform, the “landmark achievement” of Christie’s first term, is no more. He’s still getting slammed, repeatedly, for the bridge scandal, which isn’t yet resolved. Job creation in New Jersey has been slower than most of the country, and its unemployment rate is still above the national average.
The Republican can’t point to his management skills, or his presidential temperament, or his legislative accomplishments. He can’t point to his standing in the polls, or his electability, or his major donors who’ve started to embrace different candidates.
Unpredictable things happen during a race for national office, but in a crowded, competitive field, it’s tough see Christie’s road to success.