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Newark, New Jersey Remarks at a Fundraising Breakfast for Governor Brendan Byrne.

September 10, 1977

Senator Pete Williams, and my good friend, Brendan Byrne, Congressman Rodino and Congressman Thompson, Congressman Joe Minish, and to Mayor Gibson and to other friends who have formed a relationship with me during the last 4 years which is very valuable to me:

I'm always interested in coming to New Jersey to try to comprehend New Jersey politics. [Laughter] In completely arriving at a comprehension, I would guess that I will be back in New Jersey again, even after this meeting.

I tried to prepare myself this week with a crash course on politics. I invited the leaders of 27 Latin American nations to come to Washington. [Laughter] I spent about an hour with each one of them, and I learned a great deal. But the thing that I have learned most of all in New Jersey is the value of leadership.

One of the news people yesterday said, "You are probably going to New Jersey because you're a Democratic President, you're the titular head of the party, and you feel an obligation to go." That's not the case at all.

When I first heard about Brendan Byrne in 1973, I had no obligations to New Jersey. But I had heard about a man who couldn't be bought. I heard about a man who had never run in an election campaign, a man whose quiet assurance came from principles and beliefs that do not change. I've come to know a man with a quiet courage who didn't use his office just to ingratiate himself with the electorate, looking to the next election, but who made one of the most difficult decisions that I guess a Governor ever makes, and that is to raise taxes when they are needed, but to try to do it in such a way that in the long run the people who are affected will appreciate his courage.

The passage of the New Jersey income tax was unpopular. As I campaigned here last year, I could see that at first hand. But in the process now, with property taxes going down, rebates, about a quarter of a billion dollars to property tax payers, lower property taxes, over $500 million extra money going into better education for your children, and the soundness of New Jersey's fiscal integrity giving you a legitimate source of pride-his courage and his good judgment and that of many of you has begun to pay off.

I saw a public opinion poll in preparation for my visit here. As contrasted between the no-loophole income tax and an increase in either sales tax or property taxes, an overwhelming portion of the New Jersey voters now prefer the judgment that Brendan Byrne made.

I have to tell you, quite frankly, that the first time I came to New Jersey, I was impressed with kind of a sense of discouragement. There was not much progress here; there was not much excitement here. But that time has changed. There's a new sense of .honesty and commitment to principles of which all of you are proud.

A sunshine law has opened up government for your scrutiny. Public financing of the Governor's election has removed the inordinate influence of those who might tend to disrupt or corrupt government. Financial disclosure laws have been passed, a superb protection law for consumers. A corruption control effort under your good attorney general has been initiated.

And this sense of honesty and also achievement in New Jersey has been matched by dramatic programs that are symbolic in nature, yes, but which revivify the very determination that can insure the future greatness of your State.

There is no more successful sports complex in the entire United States than the new one that you have. Who would ever have thought that there would be a championship soccer team around here with 76,000 people coming to see a sport where 5 years ago, 2,000 people would not have come.

And Atlantic City, which in years gone by, generations gone by, was a place of enjoyment and growth and prosperity and brightness of life and which a few years ago had lost its hope for the future, now faces a prospect of thousands of new jobs and a strong center for the world to see of enjoyment because of Brendan Byrne.

I'm concerned about corruption. When gambling or horse racing or any other opportunity exists, there's always that possibility. But if there's one man in this Nation that I know can completely prevent the corruption that is always a potential, I think all of you would agree that it's Brendan Byrne.

I'd just like to mention a couple of other things that caused me to come here this morning, and to congratulate you on your good judgment 4 years ago and your coming good judgment this year as well. We've seen in the last 4 years, because of sound management in your State government, a better partnership evolve between New Jersey and Washington. Not just since I have been in office, but even under a Republican administration, New Jersey has now begun to benefit from the sound planning and the intense commitment to receive your fair share of Federal program assistance on a partnership basis.

When Brendan Byrne came into office, New Jersey was 49th among all the States in getting Federal program aid for housing, transportation, education, law enforcement. And now that situation has dramatically changed, and New Jersey has already moved up to 34th. Well, I don't want him to go much further. [Laughter] But I think this shows that with him in office, working with Pete Williams and the other congressional leaders that you've chosen, New Jersey can benefit by just getting back your fair share of the Federal tax dollars which you have been paying historically and which, too often, have been going to other States for their benefit and which are now coming to your State for your benefit.

I admire his quiet determination and tenacity. He exemplifies this in the most superb way. Once Brendan Byrne sets his mind on something, he'll never back down. And I'm just glad, along with you, that the things on which he is determined are the things that benefit the people of his own State.

Economic growth is good. Under Brendan Byrne's leadership, the Economic Development Authority has resulted in 24,000 new jobs; the sports complex itself, 900 permanent new jobs, plus thousands of jobs in its construction period.

Atlantic City will realize a permanent benefit of 3,900 new jobs permanently, plus all those that go into the revitalization of that city. This in itself is good. But at the same time, he has had the good judgment to also be one of the Nation's gubernatorial leaders on the protection of the quality of your lives. This is important for you, and it's important to me as President.

He's initiated an idea--which has been accepted by the Congress--called the Byrne amendment, giving Governors an input in the decisions made by the Environmental Protection Agency on water pollution, air pollution, and the protection of your beautiful beaches. This is an innovative idea which has caught on now around the world, around our Nation. And at the same time, we are eager to see exploration for new energy sources off the Atlantic freeboard to keep New Jersey's oil refineries operating at top capacity. Brendan Byrne has also had the sensitivity not to endanger the beauty of New Jersey's recreation areas on the coast.

Well, these kinds of achievements quite often are overlooked in a State like New Jersey where there is no major television station to serve your State and where the communications coming into your State, even from the newspaper medium, is mainly derived from Philadelphia and New York. So, quite often, these achievements are not apparent to people who watch this quiet and modest man in his good work.

I noticed that during the time of the New York City crisis a year or so ago, a little more than that, when it was almost impossible for New York City to sell its bonds and when the sports complex bonds were put up for sale, there was surprise in New Jersey because of a low interest rate and the ease of sale of your bonds. But it's because of the financial community's confidence in Brendan Byrne and the New Jersey government under his leadership that saved the taxpayers of this State tremendous quantities of money and gave you an opportunity for growth and improvement.

I'm opposed to runaway spending in government. And as Brendan mentioned in his introduction to me, this has been another notable achievement. Sometimes Democrats who are concerned about people, as Brendan Byrne is, are accused of wastefulness and of unnecessary government growth. Under his Republican predecessors, the annual increase in State expenditures went up twice as fast as it has under Brendan Byrne's leadership.

Well, obviously I could go on and on describing to you my reasons for pride in this good man. But I want to close by saying this: He's a man whose achievements are notable. He's a man whose past record is one that is a legitimate source of pride. He's a man who earns a continued and complete commitment of those intimate friends who know him best. He is a man who can't be bought. But the main thing I like about Brendan Byrne as the next Governor of New Jersey is that he loves his State. He loves his people. There's no way to shake his confidence in you.

And I know that he realizes that only if you honor that confidence and give him your complete support as he struggles courageously to overcome political odds, which he has done many times in the past--I don't believe he has ever lost an election so far, and I can't say that about myself--but only if you honor his trust and not just give him your quiet or quiescent or financial support, but let your neighbors and friends and all those who can hear your voice know how much you support him and actively struggle to see the reelection of this good man, will New Jersey reach its ultimate potential.

I'm proud of Brendan Byrne. I value his friendship. I know what he means to New Jersey. I know what he will mean to your State and to our Nation in the future.

You help him, I'll do my best, and we'll all benefit from his great leadership in the future.
Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:13 a.m. at Airport Satellite A-2, Newark International Airport.

Jimmy Carter, Newark, New Jersey Remarks at a Fundraising Breakfast for Governor Brendan Byrne. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/241858

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