New Jersey's Chris Christie Glosses Over Bridgegate in State of the State Address

Christie focuses on education, pension reform in major speech.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie arrives to deliver his State Of The State address at the Statehouse, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Trenton, N.J.

What began as a state probe into New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's gubernatorial staff has now expanded to include his 2012 re-election campaign workers.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spent nearly two hours last week answering questions about his administration's hand in a political plot to create a traffic snarl in Fort Lee by closing down lanes on the George Washington Bridge to Manhattan.

[READ: GOP Heavyweights Rally to Chris Christie's Side]

Apparently, that was enough. During his State of the State address Tuesday, Christie made just a passing mention of the incident, in which emails and text messages revealed some of his top aides – including one who since has been fired – conspired to punish a Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie, a Republican, for re-election.

"Mistakes were clearly made," Christie said Tuesday. "Without a doubt, we will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to ensure this breach of trust does not happen again."

 

Christie, a potential 2016 Republican presidential contender, then pivoted to his vision for his new term as governor, discussing education and pension reforms. He also showed off some of his trademark combativeness when criticizing the state's sick leave policy for government employees.

"Sick time should be used when you're sick. If you're lucky enough to be healthy, that's you're reward," he said, advocating for reforms. "Let's lift this billion-dollar albatross off the necks of New Jersey's towns."

After touting the state's improving economy, Christie also asked lawmakers to help him hold the line and not enact any new taxes.

He additionally tackled education, calling for both longer school days and longer overall school calendars.

[ALSO: Data Show Christie's Bridge Fiasco Helped Evening Traffic on Bridge]

"This is a key step to improve student outcomes and boost our competitiveness; we should do it now," he said.

The governor also spent a portion of his address highlighting the improvements made in the year since Hurricane Sandy devastated the Jersey coastline – a disaster that provided him with the opportunity to shine as a political leader.

"We are a long way from the finish line, but we are a long way from where we were one year ago," Christie said. "Challenges remain and I will not rest until every person hurt by Sandy has their life back. That is my mission."

While Christie shied away from defending his administration's integrity or apologizing further for the swirling controversy, the Bridgegate issue is unlikely to go away. In addition to Democrats in the state legislature leading inquiries into just what the governor knew and when, federal investigators also are looking into the potential for misspent federal monies in the aftermath of Sandy.

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