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We Told You it Was Comming…. and it Did!

March 17, 2010

You may recall we “predicted” a showdown between the Governor and the NJEA.  I must admit the prediction was not very risky. 

Yesterday, our Governor, the people’s Governor, delivered a courageous budget and followed it up with an equally courageous budget address.  In his budget address, Chris Christie took square aim at the NJEA’s leadership.

Governor Chris Christie

Here is the portion of the Governors address that relates to the NJEA:

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. That has created a system that cannot be sustained – a system fueled by mandatory dues of more than $700 a year taken out of every one of the nearly 200,000 teachers’ paychecks.

Political muscle fueled by intimidation tactics, political bullying and smears of public officials who dare to disagree. This conduct has set up an unfair system. Is it fair to have any public employees getting 4-5% salary increases every year, even when inflation is zero %, paid for by citizens struggling to survive? It is fair to have New Jersey taxpayers foot the bill for 100% of the health insurance costs of teachers and their families from the day they are hired until the day they die? Is it fair that teachers have a better, richer health plan than even state workers and pay absolutely nothing for it?

I believe rank and file teachers know this is not fair and that we can no longer afford to burden our taxpayers with these costs and runaway taxes. The union bosses will tell you, as they always have each time their empire is threatened, that they are protecting our children. This tired song has grown old and inaccurate. Is the way our children learn affected by whether the union gets free family health insurance for life for its members? Does a child learn more if the union gets 5% taxpayer funded raises every year for its members? This is nonsensical and self-serving – and we all know it.

Just how arrogant has the union gotten? By refusing to accept merit pay and use it to reward their best members, the union may have cost New Jersey $400 million in race to the top school aid from Washington. They did this in a year when they complain about budget cuts; in a year when we could truly use the money. Ask yourself, just who is putting their personal interests ahead of our children’s?

My proposal is simple: school district employees should pay for a reasonable portion of their health care costs, just like every other New Jerseyan. If we do not end this dual system, state and local government will have to raise taxes endlessly to pay for it. Teachers are not the problem, they get it. Trenton special interests are the problem and we must stand up to them.

This is not the last of the fight.  The NJEA will most certainly continue to ramp up their public relations efforts in attempt to convince or scare voters.  Some how the NJEA expects us to believe shared sacrifice means everyone but them.

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