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Christie vs. Oliver On Education Reform [VIDEO/AUDIO]

Comments made by Governor Chris Christie during a town hall in Paterson have the Assembly Speaker fuming.

Governor Christie in Paterson
Governor Christie hosts his 102nd town hall in Paterson. (Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen)

While answering a question from the crowd about the city’s failing schools, Christie mentioned he had been trying to assist struggling districts by pushing for the Opportunity Scholarship Act (OSA). The plan would provide vouchers to students in failing districts so they’d have the option to attend a private or parochial school. He singled out Speaker Sheila Oliver, a Democrat in Essex County, for blocking a vote on the bill.

“Let me tell you who blocks it – the very people who represent urban New Jersey,” Christie said. “We have an African-American, female Speaker of the Assembly who represents communities like East Orange and Orange, where there are failing schools all over, and she refuses to let people vote on this bill.”

Hear Christie’s comments: 

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After thoroughly reviewing Christie’s comments, Speaker Oliver said she was “appalled.”

“I have never, nor will I ever, reference the Governor’s ethnicity, or make a veiled reference to the color of his skin, yet that’s exactly what Governor Christie did today,” Oliver said in a statement. “Governor – if you have a problem with me, call me by name.”

On the education front, Oliver said she’d welcome a compromise from Christie that “does not further threaten our public education system.”

Christie responded, “The Governor doesn’t want to eliminate the public schools; what the Governor wants to do is have every child get a great education no matter where they live.”

He said nothing angers him more about his job than seeing parents watch their children fail in school with no other options available.

The Governor’s proposed budget includes $2 million for a pilot run of the voucher program.

WATCH: Yelling match between the Governor and a town hall attendee

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