Christie sets himself up for failure by not going far enough
By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
(Reprinted from the March 24, 2010 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/news.php?id=7953)
“There will be as many as 1,300 layoffs, beginning Jan. 1, 2011.?
“Three billion dollars in savings results from recognizing that our pension system must be reformed before we can or should fund a broken, out-of-control system.?
“School districts will have $819 million less than they had last year ? no school district in New Jersey will face a reduction in aid that is greater than 5 percent of their school budget.?
“I am recommending a reduction in various forms of municipal aid of $445 million, but it has been designed to minimize the effect on any one municipality.?
“I am introducing a constitutional amendment to cap the growth of property taxes at no more than 2? percent per year ? (and) collective bargaining reform that respects these new caps.?
“Last week, I established a privatization advisory board.”
? Gov. Chris Christie, in his March 16 budget speech
After just 10 weeks in office, Chris Christie has set himself up for failure. Take a close look at the seven main points of his budget message.
1. New Jersey has roughly 80,000 state employees with an average salary of roughly $60,000 plus about $25,000 in pensions and benefits. Christie proposes only 1,300 layoffs ? not even a 2 percent reduction. Why not a single layoff for 10 months? This delay will cost taxpayers more than $55 million. Christie was advised by his hand-picked attorney general to pay the protection money promised by ex-Governor Corzine to keep state employees quiet during last year?s campaign.
2. The need to reform the state pension system is no excuse for the state not to make its $3 billion contribution this year. Governor Christie can and should take immediate legal action to freeze or limit payments by declaring state government pensions insolvent and unconstitutional Ponzi schemes. But until he does, he must honor his oath of office and pay what is required by law and the contracts with our public school and government employees.
3. Gov. Chris Christie and his phony conservative Commissioner of Education Brett Schundler cooked up a convoluted formula to cut $819 million from local school budgets. Honest and efficient suburban districts who voted Republican will get the biggest cuts. The most mismanaged and corrupt Democrat districts like Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Camden will get most of their money and business as usual.
4. The cute language in his budget message makes it clear that Christie will also slam the efficient Republican suburbs and reward the corrupt and mismanaged Democratic cities when he cuts $445 million of state handouts to local governments.
5. Christie’s proposed constitutional amendment to limit future local tax hikes to 2? percent is clueless. This idea worked in Massachusetts in 1980 before the 30-year spending binge by state and local governments. Christie wants to lock the barn door after the horse is stolen. Most New Jersey homeowners and businesses can’t afford the taxes we pay now. We need big decreases in public school and local government spending immediately.
6. Reform for public employee collective bargaining? We need to end this abomination. If you believe in democracy, which is “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” you agree that only the elected representatives of the people should decide how much to pay our public “servants.” Right now, New Jersey law gives public employee unions ? some with only two or three members ? the power to force taxes on thousands of voting citizens to pay big salaries and benefits that most cannot afford. Since when are Americans OK with taxation without their consent?
7. Privatization? Former Councilman Gene Dorn of Atlantic City said it best 20 years ago. When your team is losing too many games, the first thing you do is fire the coach and keep the team. Since when do you keep the same losing coach and fire the team?
Governor Christie is on the road to a colossal failure that will again disgrace and cripple the Republican Party. He is a rehash of liberal Republican Governors like Tom Kean and Whitman/DeFrancesco ? and “compassionate conservative? Republican Presidents George Bush I and II.
Like them, he eagerly reaches out to liberals, while he ignores, insults and freezes out good conservatives like Steve Lonegan. Christie needs a strong, conservative attorney general to aggressively challenge current laws and change direction. But he instead appointed Paula Dow, an unknown and untested liberal Democrat from Newark.