Christine Todd Whitman has a BA in government from Wheaton College in Norton, MA. Prior to becoming Governor, she was the President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and served on the Somerset County board of Chosen Freeholders.
Governor of New Jersey
The Whitman administration set the bar for balancing the state budget. By the time she signed her last budget, she had grown the state surplus to nearly $1.2 billion, and virtually eliminated the structural deficit. Under Whitman’s leadership, state spending was reigned in to a modest growth rate of 5.1 percent per year (less than private sector growth), a rate the state had not seen since the 1950s and which later governors have been unable to replicate. When she left office, the pension systems were overfunded and prior unfunded liabilities had been eliminated. As a result of the Whitman administration’s fiscal responsibility, credit rating agencies upgraded the state’s bond ratings four times over the course of her governorship.
During the time Whitman held office, 400,000 new jobs were created in the state. Unemployment dropped to a decade low of 3.4% in June 2000 from an average of 6.8% in 1994. Per capita personal income during the same time span rose from $27,885 in 1994 to $35,551 in 1999, making it the second highest in the nation. The Whitman administration and the Republican legislature also instituted the first-ever income tax reduction in New Jersey history which, combined with nearly 40 other tax cuts, resulted in around $14 billion being returned to the state’s taxpayers.
As Governor, she earned praise from Republicans and Democrats alike for her commitment to preserve a record amount of New Jersey land as permanent green space. Acres of preserved land in New Jersey grew from 168,626 to 1,072,262 by the end of 2000. In six years the annual number of visitors to New Jersey state parks rose by 1.6 million. She was also recognized by the Natural Resources Defense Council as having instituted the most comprehensive beach monitoring system in the nation. By the time she left office in 2000, the number of beach closings had been lowered to ten from 137 in 1994. Whitman also instituted an auto inspection program for air pollution, which helped to reduce the level of air pollution in the state by more than half.
Governor Whitman also took the initiative to hold schools more accountable for the education of New Jersey’s children. She required that schools issue a public School Report Card on their characteristics and performance, established a performance-based aid program to distribute $10 million annually to schools with high student achievement, and established charter schools throughout the state.
During her time in office, crime also dropped to its lowest rate since the mid-1970s, and Megan’s Law and the New Jersey Sexually Violent Offender Predator Act were passed to allow New Jersey to register all sex offenders. Since then, these pieces of legislation have been adopted in states across the country. The Whitman administration also instituted a juvenile court system to help keep non-violent youth out of prisons, while instituting a series of reforms designed to deter young people from committing crimes.
Under her leadership, fares for the state’s bus and rail systems were not increased for nearly a decade. After accounting for inflation, NJ Transit’s fares cost less in 2000 than they did in 1983, saving NJ Transit riders approximately $800 million. Tolls on the Garden State Parkway were also held constant. Tourism and state reputation also increased, and the U.S. Supreme Court granted New Jersey state sovereignty to the majority of Ellis Island.
Whitman served in the cabinet of President George W. Bush as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from January of 2001 until June of 2003.
As EPA Administrator, she promoted common-sense environmental improvements such as watershed-based water protection policies. She championed regulations requiring non-road diesel engines to reduce sulfur emissions by more than 95 percent. Under her tenure, the Agency established the first federal program to promote redevelopment and reuse of “brownfields”, that is, previously contaminated industrial sites. She also instituted the well-regarded National Water Quality Training program, which asked states and local municipalities to develop and put into practice water quality trading programs that allow polluters to trade, sell, and buy pollution reduction credits, using the power of the market to achieve the next generation of progress in water quality.
In 2003, Whitman led the international delegation to observe the Cambodian presidential elections for the International Republican Institute (IRI). In 2005, along with President Jimmy Carter, she co-chaired the Palestinian elections for the National Democratic Institute (NDI).
Since leaving the EPA, she has served as President of The Whitman Strategy Group (WSG), a consulting firm that specializes in energy and environmental issues. WSG offers a comprehensive set of solutions to problems facing businesses, organizations, and governments; they have been at the forefront of helping leading companies find innovative solutions to environmental challenges.
She is the author of a New York Times best seller called “It’s My Party Too”, which was published in January of 2005 and released in paperback in March 2006.
Governor Whitman serves a number of non-profit organizations including heading the Trustees’ Executive Committee of the Eisenhower Fellowships. She co-chairs Clean and Safe Energy (CASE) with Ambassador Ron Kirk, is Chairman of the American Security Project, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Center for Sustainable Shale Development. She is also a member of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board.
Governor Whitman also serves on the Board of Directors of S.C. Johnson and Son, Inc., Texas Instruments Inc., and United Technologies Corporation. She holds a Masters Professional Director Certification from the American College of Corporate Directors, and is on the advisory board of The Northeast Maglev (TNEM). She serves as an advisor to the Aspen Rodel Fellowship program and on the O’Connor Judicial Selection Advisory Committee at the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Corporate Eco Forum, and a member of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Leadership Council.
Christie Whitman was married for 41 years to the late John R. Whitman. She has two children and six grandchildren.