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NJ Gov. Christie's Focus: Rebuilding, Re-election

Christie's reputation for bluntness and penchant for confrontation have made him a YouTube sensation and sometimes obscured policy changes he has championed.

With the help of Democrats who control both houses of the state Legislature, Christie took on public worker unions, enacting sweeping pension and health benefits changes that cost workers more and are designed to shore up the underfunded public worker retirement and health care systems long term. He also enacted a 2 percent property tax cap with few loopholes to try to slow the annual growth rate of property taxes, already the highest in the nation at an average of $7,519 when adjusted for rebates.

Christie's education reforms have been slower to accomplish, and Democrats have refused to budge on his signature issue for this year, a phased-in 10 percent tax cut. With tax collections underperforming the administration's projections and storm rebuilding threatening to eat further into revenues, Democrats are unlikely to waver on their position that the state can't afford the cut.

Christie's handling of the state's struggling economy, a potential Achilles heel, has taken a back seat to the storm recovery. But unemployment remains a stubborn 9.7 percent, or 1.6 percent above the national jobless rate, and it's too early to tell whether tax collections will rebound to match administration projections for the fiscal year that began in July.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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