I suppose every cloud has a silver lining. While the President and Congress put in motion their agenda to bankrupt the nation and put every human living within our borders dependent on the state, NJ Republican governor Chris Christie signed a bunch of bills yesterday in Trenton, making good on his promise to reform the Garden State’s broken pension system.
For those of you not familiar with NJ politics, the state has been reeling in billions of debt. For years public employees - particularly school teachers, administrators, and superintendents - have gotten union-guaranteed fully paid health care benefits and pensions. Public officials like mayors and even emergency personnel have been able to turn decades of unused sick days into six-figure payouts at retirement, as well as generous pensions. Not to mention that the Garden State has had "double dipping" problems - people holding two taxpayer-funded jobs and collecting two salaries, two benefit plans, and two pensions.
No governor has had the balls to do anything about this unsustainable situation - until Christie came into office.
Kevin McArdle at NJ 101.5 has the story. There’s video available at the link:
Posted: Tuesday, 23 March 2010 5:01AM
CHRISTIE SIGNS PENSIONS AND HEALTH BENEFITS REFORMS INTO LAW (WITH VIDEO)
Kevin McArdle Reporting
Governor Chris Christie has signed his first bills into law. Last night, Christie signed the three measures designed to save taxpayers billions by making pensions and health benefits for government workers less generous.
“The passage of today’s set of bills is a solid start to reforming our pension system and I applaud the Senate and Assembly Leadership and the entire bipartisan efforts of the legislature for taking this necessary first step,” says Christie. “It is clear that our state can no longer afford a system that is rife with abuse, that promises substantial payouts with little buy-in, and that provides benefits that are wildly out of proportion with the private sector.”
To hear full audio of Christie’s press conference go www.nj.gov and click on the Governor’s page. …“This is a key step toward fixing our broken pension and benefit system with a comprehensive bipartisan package that’s been studied and analyzed to ensure it will eventually save taxpayer money,” says Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. “Our system is unsustainable for both taxpayers and public workers, but with this expanded and sweeping package we will bring real reform and relief to taxpayers and create a reliable system for public workers.”
“The bills represent the first step towards achieving important and necessary reforms to the state’s pension and health benefits program,” says Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce. “Everyone acknowledges the current structure cannot be supported by taxpayers alone and needs to be revamped. We are past the point of talking about the problem and I am pleased that the long overdue changes the system requires are finally becoming a reality.”
Christie says the legislation has far-reaching savings. Two of the bills are projected to save $8 billion over 15 years. The third bill, which requires a health care contribution from all workers, is projected to save local governments and school boards $315 million in the coming year alone. …
Yesterday, The Senate also passed a resolution that would require the state to begin making its annual pension system contribution. The constitutional amendment requires voter approval.
Two other reform bills, both originating in the Assembly, were held. One would bar quasi-government employees from enrolling in the pension system. The other would apply pension reforms to employees of authorities, boards and commissions. Oliver says those bills would be worked on over the next couple of months and returned for consideration when the Legislature returns from a break in May.
Thank you, governor, for defending us NJ taxpayers, and especially for standing up to the teachers union. These spoiled brats need to understand that they've milked the cow dry enough.
This morning at NJ 101.5 they announced that school budgets were being delivered to Trenton, most of which contain property tax hikes. Why? Without any cut in state aid, my property taxes have gone up 25% in five years while teachers, administrators, and superintendents win the lottery. For years their union contracts have guaranteed automatic raises, accumulated sick days, and paid-for pensions and health benefits. And for what? Are NJ’s public schools the best in the country? In the world? Hardly. As with most government-run endeavors, we’re giving a whole lot and getting very little return on the investment. Enough. The gravy train is closed!