Gov. Christie made two stops in South Jersey on Friday, the first to rally business leaders to support his budget proposal and the second to sign a bill that aims to protect the developmentally disabled from harmful caregivers.
In a keynote speech to the Southern New Jersey Chamber of Commerce in Voorhees, Christie urged business leaders to encourage legislators to pass a budget by June 30 that does not raise taxes and that limits spending.
"You cannot be spectators," he said. "The purveyors of demagoguery are coming. Get ready."
Christie again criticized the state teachers' union, saying many business owners in the room would be glad to sign up for the plan he has proposed: a one-year wage freeze and a 1.5 percent contribution toward health benefits.
The union has called on the governor to reinstitute the so-called millionaire's tax on people who make more than $400,000, to alleviate cuts in education.
But Christie promised again to veto such a measure it if it comes to his desk, saying that about half of the 63,000 taxpayers affected last year were small-business owners.
That promise reflects Christie's priority of protecting the wealthy over teachers, said Steve Baker, a spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association.
"He is slashing funding to public education, and he's being dishonest if he says anything else," Baker said.
Christie promised the business leaders that if the state passes a budget that does not raise taxes, "New Jersey will be a national story."
At the Abilities Center of Southern New Jersey in Westville, Christie signed a bill to create a state registry of people who have committed offenses against the developmentally disabled.
Christie said the law would prevent harmful caregivers from gaining reemployment or continuing to participate in human-services-funded programs.
"It is just common sense that anyone who would act out against any human being in our society, but most particularly those who are most vulnerable, does not deserve to work anymore around anyone with those vulnerabilities, with those sensitivities," he said.
The registry would track paid caregivers and volunteers who have been determined to have abused, neglected, or exploited anyone with developmental disabilities.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester), who sponsored the bill, attended the signing with his daughter Lauren, who was born with Down syndrome.
"My daughter lives in a world that only knows one thing, love and trust," Sweeney said. "She doesn't know that there's bad people out here. She trusts people and that's what we have to protect against. I can't tell you how grateful I am that Gov. Christie . . . came here today to sign this bill."
Sweeney choked up and wiped away tears as he thanked the governor.
"The governor is a good man," Sweeney said. "His heart is in the right place and he cares."
Assemblyman Angel Fuentes (D., Camden) and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D., Bergen) also attended the signing.
The law takes effect in 180 days.