Only last week Halbfinger penned a favorable profile  of Connecticut's Democrat Gov. Dannel Malloy, who devoted half the interview to running down, in Halbfinger's words, the "blustery and bellicose" Christie, whose clips of his back-and-forth engagement with union members have won him a conservative fan club.
Halbfinger's treatment of Christie was far less friendly than the tone he took toward Gov. Malloy:
A pugnacious and boastful Gov. Chris Christie proposed a no-growth budget for New Jersey on Tuesday, saying he had inspired a legion of copycat governors from Albany to Sacramento and was not about to let up in his efforts to shift money from public workers to property-tax payers and businesses that create jobs.
Mr. Christie, who was elected in 2009, seemed to want to take credit for budget-cutting measures being used in statehouses across the country by this year's crop of rookies - as if he had copyrighted austerity.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Democrat of New York, Mr. Christie said, was following in his footsteps, and "even the choice of words are similar to where New Jersey was one year ago." Mr. Christie also quoted the call by Gov. Jerry Brown, Democrat of California, for wage cuts and an end to fiscal gimmicks, adding, "Sound familiar?"
With the state's education system still reeling from Mr. Christie's cuts a year ago, when dozens of districts lost all their state aid, the governor offered to increase funding to every school district by an amount equal to 1 percent of its current-year budget.
While Halbfinger empathized with the Democratic governor's struggles to trim the deficit while spending "much of his energy finding ways to spare the most vulnerable," Halbfinger examined Christie's actions from the perspective of public-sector unions:
Most galling to union leaders, who argue that the governor is using them as scapegoats for an economic crisis they say was caused by Wall Street millionaires, was Mr. Christie's call for $200 million in new tax breaks, including an increase in the estate-tax exemption to $1 million, from $675,000. The governor said this would help small-business owners.