Today, we are fulfilling the promise of a smaller government that lives within its means. The defenders of the status quo have already begun to yell and scream. They will try to demonize me. They will seek to divide us rather than unite us. But even they know in their hearts, if not yet in their minds — it is time for a change.
—Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey: via NYT
Even now, in the depths of a great economic crisis, local governments and school boards can’t hold back on the pressure that comes from the public sector unions…
Every department of state government has been asked to tighten its belt. And we will demand local governments do the same. We cannot and should not make state government shrink only to let local government expand….
—Chris Christie: transcript of budget speech, via NJ.com. Commendably, he pointed to the “9% pension increase granted by republicans in 2001 but never paid for by either party.” Christie later crystallizes the us vs them mentality of public sector unions and voters in terms of the teachers union: “The leaders of the union who represent these teachers, however, have used their political muscle to set up two classes of citizens in New Jersey: those who enjoy rich public benefits and those who pay for them.”
According to the latest compensation survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average state and local employee outearns his counterpart in the private economy with an hourly wage of $26.11, versus $19.41. That’s before benefits (pensions, health care, paid vacations and sick days and leaves) drive the disparity even higher, to $39.60 an hour for public employees and $27.42 for private workers.
—Jonathan Laing: via Barrons. Rising property taxes have not helped allay the “populist rage” that has emerged from the inequality between constituents and their municipal workers. Instead, it has driven NJ to a form of Massachusetts proposition 2 1/2, which capped property tax increases to 2.5%. Nonetheless, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argued in2008 that the MA referendum “resulted in cuts to valued services rather than simply calling forth greater efficiency from local governments.” These are hard questions.
I worked for what I have. I deserve to have paid insurance. They shouldn’t knock people who work for it.
—Nanette Maurath, 64, Woodbridge school bus driver for 32 years, remarking on the free health insurance she now receives: via NJ.com