State Aid CutsMarch 17, 2010
Christie’s Big GambleMarch 18, 2010
Samples of Budget Chatter:
By publicly vilifying public employees and their union leaders, Christie risked starting a class war in which private-sector citizens attack their children’s teachers over health care and pensions. But he may be too busy to notice, since his kids go to Catholic school and he’s already plotting to lay off 1,300 state workers come January.
He has undertaken a bold gamble. He’s shoved all his chips into the middle of the table and bet his future on public reaction being one of understanding the severity of the current situation and a willingness to accept short term distress in the interest of long term fiscal stability…He has thrown down a challenge not only to the Democrats in the Legislature, but to county, municipal and board of education officials throughout the state.
CHRISTIE: And just as importantly it’s school districts because teachers pay nothing right now. Zero towards their health insurance benefits. Family health insurance benefits that run anywhere from $18,000 to $24,000 a year that the taxpayers pay for that teacher and their family from the day they’re hired until the day they die – fully paid medical benefits.
BRENNAN: So the teachers union can be expecting that in 2011, June 2011?
CHRISTIE: Well, the teachers union can be expecting that coming now in this budget that we’re going to be trying to force that to happen because we simply can’t afford this level of benefit anymore, and your statistics show it.
Programming and staffing cuts are inevitable for us. Inevitably, we’re going to have to reduce staffing.This will have an impact on unemployment and there could be potential property tax increases as a result. I don’t see how this remains true to the governor’s statements or vision.
“I watched Christie’s address and was very incensed as he painted us — not only teachers but all public employees — in a negative light. For 42 years I have contributed to my pension, with the guarantee that the state would match that contribution. Obviously that didn’t happen.
The Fiscal Year 2011 Budget is the result of hard and difficult choices. The reality is that, given the current economic and fiscal climate, no department or program can go untouched. The unfortunate consequence is that many services Governor Christie considers priorities will have to share in the sacrifice. However, by putting New Jersey’s fiscal house back in order now, it will be possible to restore funding for the most effective and desirable programs in the future.
So much of the talk about school funding is overheated rhetoric and wild claims about out-of-control spending, without any consideration of what resources our students need, especially those in high poverty schools. It is our hope that the [Fully Weighted Formula] will lead to a more informed, deliberate dialogue about this critical issue.