NJ facing 20% reduction in government services

The fiscal crisis in New Jersey’s governments and schools will continue through 2017 as a result of a $13 billion revenue shortfall, ($8 billion on the state level, $5 billion on the local, county and school levels combined) according to a report, Facing Our Future, released by the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers. (CNJG)

NJSpotlight and Bloomberg have write ups on the report.

The report says New Jersey will face a gradual cut in government services of 20%.  Increased classroom sizes, from 22 to 28, less police officers and the elimination of services all together.

CNJG recommends solutions we have all heard before.  Shared services, consolidations, more county government and less municipal government, county administration of schools.

One thing that is not clear from the write-ups.  $7 billion of the $8 billion state revenue shortfall will be pension contributions negotiated by Governor Christie and the Democratic legislature in last years “landmark” pension and benefit reform bill.

One solution not recommended in the report….break the government employees unions’ control of our government.

In 2010 the unions said no to give backs.  Thus, New Jersey suffered increased class sizes and police layoffs in our cities.  Crime continues to rise in Newark and Camden, but our elected officials can’t do anything about that because the unions control how many police officers can be hired given the money available to pay them.

New Jersey pays unemployment benefits to laid off police officers not to patrol the streets of our cities, while the high paid officers who kept their jobs do the best they can.   There are less extreme examples of needless service cutbacks throughout the state.

Practically speaking, there is no question that New Jersey’s public employees control the government.  Not the people.  Not the elected officials.

New Jersey’s fiscal crisis could be solved easily if the law of supply and demand were applied to the labor market for government workers.   Until that happens, if it ever happens, we will continue to pay more for less. 

It doesn’t matter how we restructure government so long as the employees are in charge.

Posted: March 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Civil Service Reform, Economy, New Jersey State Budget, Public Employee Unions, Reform Agenda | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Christie Administration Announces Contract Agreement With Third-Largest Public Employee Negotiations Unit

Financial Terms Recognize Fiscal Realities and Limitations as New Jersey Emerges from Recession


Trenton, NJ – The Christie Administration has reached a four-year contract agreement with a state employee collective negotiations unit representing more than 5,000 employees.  The financial terms of the agreement, which provide for no across the board salary increases in the first two years and small increases in the third and final years, are a practical recognition by both the negotiations unit and the Christie Administration of the strains on budget resources and state revenues and the continuing need to restrain costs as New Jersey emerges from recession.


The agreement, which requires ratification by the union memberships, was reached with the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), AFL-CIO Local 195, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 518.  Both union locals are covered under one contract, and the new agreement will succeed the prior agreement which expired June 30, 2011.  The agreement was reached last week and is expected to be voted on by the locals’ respective memberships in the coming weeks.


The across the board salary increases in the agreement are as follows:  July 1, 2011 – 0 percent; July 1, 2012 – 0 percent; July 1, 2013 – 1 percent , and July 1, 2014 – 1.75 percent. 


“The financial terms of this agreement are, at best, similar to what most New Jerseyans in the private sector have experienced in recent years.  The same can be said for non-union state employees in the executive branch who have not seen a raise in over four years,” said Governor Christie.  “I thank both union locals for their recognition of the reality we all confront and for their honest and fair negotiations with my administration.  I can tell you that we have the same expectations for our other public employee contracts still being negotiated.”


IFPTE represents approximately 4,900 state employees throughout departments in the executive branch and at state colleges, with job titles falling into the categories of operations, maintenance and services; crafts (mechanics, engineers, plumbers, etc.); and inspection and security.  SEIU represents approximately 190 employees at the state Motor Vehicle Commission.  Together IFPTE/SEIU represents the third-largest state employee civilian negotiations unit.


The Christie Administration continues negotiations with 12 other public employee unions, the largest being the Communications Workers of America, representing approximately 35,000 state employees.


State Senator Joe Kyrillos (R- Monmouth/Middlesex) issued the following statement congratulating Governor Christie for coming to a contract agreement with state employees represented by the IFPTE and SEIU:

“The Governor promised that there would be someone fighting for the taxpayers at the negotiating table, and this contract makes good on that promise.”

“Through a commitment to collective bargaining, the contract agreed to by the Administration, SEIU, and IFPTE is fair to employees and taxpayers alike, and reflects the economic realities facing private sector workers across our state.”

“This approach to labor negotiations is a model that I hope future Administrations will follow, as it puts taxpayers’ interests first.”


Posted: December 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Christie Administration Announces Contract Agreement With Third-Largest Public Employee Negotiations Unit

The Cheese Heads Are Coming! The Cheese Heads Are Coming!

By Art Gallagher

Wisconsin public employees will join their New Jersey comrades in Trenton on Friday to protest fiscal discipline, representative government, and the right to work.

Standing for New Jersey’s taxpayers in a counter protest will be the Bayshore Tea Party Group and American’s For Prosperity-NJ.

The AFP/Tea Party group will meet at the State House, 125 West State Street, Trenton, at noon on Friday.

Posted: February 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Bayshore Tea Party Group | Tags: | Comments Off on The Cheese Heads Are Coming! The Cheese Heads Are Coming!

Government of the unions, by the unions, for the unions

By Art Gallagher

Despite the rhetoric coming from Paul Krugman, Dick Durbin, President Obama and other demagogues on the left in the wake of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to scale back public employee unions’ power, no one has yet attempted to “break the unions.”

That’s a shame because public employee unions are as serious a threat to Americans’ freedom as is radical Islam. Maybe more so.  

In many states throughout the union, including New Jersey, public employee unions have more power and influence over government policy, operations and spending than our elected representatives.  From our governor down to the councilman and school board member, elected office holders ability to manage and govern their jurisdictions are constrained by laws and contracts that protect employees from the public will.

Walker’s proposal in Wisconsin to remove unions ability to negotiate for pensions and benefits and Governor Christie’s reform agenda in New Jersey are considered bold because over the last 50 years unions have systematically and gradually taken over our governments. Their political power was extreme and unchecked.   Before Christie took on the NJEA over the last year and thrived, no politician dared take on such a powerful special interest.  Sure there where those who tried, but you don’t remember who they are and neither do I, because the unions destroyed them.  Christie, and now apparently Walker, could be the right men at the right time to lead America back to a truly representative form of government in the States.

Yet, as bold and radical as the governors seem in the context of the last 50 years of growing union power, their proposals are relatively modest.  Far from really “turning Trenton(or Madison) upside down” or doing “big things” Christie and Walker are modestly tinkering with the existing systems.

As Daniel DiSalvo, an assistant professor of political science at City College of New York, told the Star Ledger’s Tom Moran in a Q and A published yesterday:

Christie has created a big storm, in part because of his aggressive style. But what he’s proposed is not that controversial. It leaves intact the entire collective bargaining structure. Yes, he would impose short-term pain, but the Walker plan goes to the root of the problem.

Walker’s plan might go to the root of the problem, but it only exposes the root, it doesn’t cut it:

Q. Is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker really proposing to end collective bargaining?

A. Not exactly. He’ll retain it for police, firefighters and state troopers. But he is proposing a drastic rollback for teachers and other public employees. They will retain the right to bargain over wages, but not benefits.

Politically, Christie’s success over the last year and Walker’s anticipated success could well be due to the moderateness of their proposals being sold to the public with bold rhetoric.  Christie took on the NJEA last year by calling for wage freezes and health care contributions of only 1.5% of teacher salaries in order to save jobs.  The union looked petty in their vocal opposition and the public sided with the Governor by overwhelmingly rejecting school budgets at the ballot boxes.  The public continues to support Christie’s agenda and now the debate in Trenton is over how much spending to cut, not whether to cut.  That’s a big change, but it is not systematic change.

But systematic change was not politically possible a year ago.  It is becoming possible, but it won’t be swift.  The unions took over our governments incrementally over a period of a half century.  We, the people, did not notice it happening for the most part.  Now that the public is waking up to the relative largess of public employee compensation and benefits, systematic change becomes increasingly possible, but it will have to be accomplished incrementally.

DiSalvo makes the case why public employee unions must be broken in his National Affairs article published last fall. Every political leader should take the time to read the article.

Posted: February 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, NJEA, Public Employee Unions | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments »