Updated 2:33 p.m., 5/14/2014
(CNN) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday he would not raise taxes as his administration quickly tries to find a solution to the budget's massive $807 million shortfall.
Christie's comments came in an on-stage interview with CBS News' Bob Schieffer at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation's 2014 Fiscal Summit in Washington.
Lamenting what he described as a broken tax system in New Jersey, Christie said the top 10 individuals with the most income in New Jersey pay the same amount of taxes as the bottom two million people in the state's tax bracket.
"If those 10 people get up and walk out...if they get up and decide to go and hang with (Gov.) Rick Scott in Florida, I'm losing the equivalent in revenue to what the bottom 2 million filers pay," he said. "That's why I'm not raising taxes."
Drawing an analogy, Christie argued raising taxes would be like raising prices at a struggling restaurant.
"I don't think that's the way you get more people to come to your restaurant," he continued. "And we're in competition with 49 other restaurants."
Economic ups and downs
While Christie acknowledged the economic progress his state has made since he became governor, he also addressed a slew of other fiscal troubles that are dogging his administration back at home.
On the bright side, Christie mentioned, as he often has in the past, that there are 6,000 fewer state employees than four years ago, and the budget has been balanced in each year of his first term, as required by state law.
His office also noted Wednesday in an email blast that Christie also put a 2% cap on property tax increases and helped close a $2.2 billion shortfall that he inherited from the previous administration during his first year in office.
However, not all is well in the Garden State's check book. And Christie is painfully aware.
The unemployment rate is still larger than the national average. Added to that, last month New Jersey's treasury department revealed the $807 million shortfall in the state budget–a lot bigger than the $145 million his administration had projected.
Why was the estimate so off?
Christie placed blame on the Obama administration increasing taxes on the nation's top income earners with the end of the Bush-era tax cuts last year. He said it clearly had an effect on spending habits, and argued New Jersey is not the only state that fell short of its projected tax revenues.
The administration and the state legislature must figure out a solution to balance the $33 billion budget by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
To make matters worse, New Jersey's credit rating was downgraded again this week, this time by Moody's Investors Service, which cited the budget shortfall as a reason for its updated analysis. The state has now been downgraded by a credit-rating agency six times since Christie became governor.
His state also faces a massive pension debt of $52 billion. Along with the Democratic-controlled legislature, Christie carried out major reforms to the system during his first term–and his administration is set to make a $1.6 billion pension payment this year –but the governor acknowledges that it's still not enough.
Asked if he'll be able to still make that payment given the recent announcement about the budget shortfall, Christie said he'll answer that question when he makes his proposal next week.
The economic woes come as Christie chairs the Republican Governors Association, a group that's actively trying to frame a 2014 message that says states with Republican governors are more fiscally sound.
'Time to dig in'
Christie argued that he inherited the state's current fiscal mess and blamed his predecessors for creating an irresponsible fiscal climate.
"I'm trying in the last five years to fix problems that we've accumulated over the last 20," he said.
"For a decade, New Jersey governors made no pension payments," he added. "My job is not only to pay for what I'm accumulating now, but also to pay back what they never paid."
Christie has addressed his state's financial uncertainty in the past. In a forceful speech last month, Christie told New Jersey lawmakers that they must reform the pension system among other actions to stem an economic disaster.
"It's time to dig in and make a few people unhappy so that the greater good can be achieved," Christie said at an event in Washington.
Democrats were eager to highlight the less-than-rosy situation in which he finds himself back in the Garden State. The Democratic National Committee on Wednesday released a memo that lists a number of the state's problems.
And while the governor frequently touted his bipartisan work with the legislature during his re-election campaign and during his State of the State address earlier this year, not all Democrats agreed with his assessment.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Democrat, in January described relations between New Jersey Democrats and Christie as "very difficult," saying the governor "set lines in the sand" and "said it's my way or the highway."
Wisniewski also co-chairs the committee investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal that has upended Christie's administration.
"Bipartisan means both sides give. That's not how this governor operates," Wisniewski said.