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N.J. Voters Back Christie Superintendent Wage Caps

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg

Almost two-thirds of New Jersey voters back Governor Chris Christie’s salary limits for public school superintendents, a Quinnipiac University poll found.

Sixty-three percent of respondents said Christie’s move to cap administrative pay at his own $175,000 salary is a “good way” to balance schools’ budgets and lower property taxes. Sixty-one percent said they support a 2 percent limit on police and firefighter raises.

Forty-six percent of voters approved of Christie’s job performance, down from 51 percent in a Nov. 9 survey. His approval score is up from 33 percent in a poll taken before he took office in January. The Republican, 48, has since feuded with teachers, canceled a commuter-rail tunnel under the Hudson River and enacted a 2 percent cap on property-tax growth.

“He started the year fighting with the educational establishment,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in an interview. “He seems to have hit a sore point there and people agree with him. The war on the educational establishment seems to be working.”

Christie, who ousted Democrat Jon Corzine amid voter anger about the state’s property taxes, proposed the salary caps to limit growth in bills that averaged $7,281 in 2009. Education funding generally accounts for the largest portion of the bills.

‘Snapshot in Time’

Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for the governor, said the poll is a “snapshot in time” and declined to comment further.

More than 50 school superintendents had salaries of more than $200,000, according to state Education Department data. Christie’s administrative-pay cap would cut salaries for 366 people.

Christie, the first Republican in New Jersey to win a statewide race since 1997, was elected in a state where registered Republicans account for one-in-five voters.

He was correct in killing the Hudson River commuter tunnel, voters said 46 percent to 38 percent, the poll found. Sixty-four percent backed extending New York City’s No. 7 subway line to New Jersey. Approval dropped to 49 percent when voters were asked to spend $1 billion on the project.

“As a conservative Republican in a blue state, he’s doing OK,” Carroll said. “If I was Christie, I’d be happy with this year. He ended it with a national reputation and locally he hasn’t won everything but he also hasn’t lost.”

Researchers at Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac surveyed 1,276 New Jersey voters by telephone Dec. 14-19. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

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