I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Christie's Letter to Teachers: Gone, But Not Forgotten

It looks as though Christie's "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" has been pulled from his campaign website; probably in anticipation of the massive flip-flop he is about to pull on the issue of pensions.

Here, for posterity, is the text:

An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ

I am the proud product of our state’s public education system. In fact, my late mother was a dues-paying member of the NJEA. I know firsthand that one of the main reasons many of our schools rank among the best in America is because of our dedicated teachers and educational professionals who work hard every day to give our children the learning experience they deserve.

Like you, I am fully committed to supporting New Jersey’s kids, teachers and parents to make sure our children receive a first-class education so they can pursue limitless opportunities once they graduate. Our state’s teachers are charged with one of the greatest responsibilities one can have, and they deliver each and every day for our kids.

But lately, there has been some misinformation circulated falsely, by supporters of Governor Corzine, suggesting I would attempt to diminish or take away teachers’ pensions and benefits. Let me be clear – nothing could be further from the truth. The claim that any harm would come to your pension should I be elected Governor is absolutely untrue. It is a 100% lie. Your pension will be protected when I am elected Governor.

Right now, the Trenton-based leaders of the teachers’ union are literally spending millions of dollars of your union dues to falsely attack me on television and through slick mailers. This is nothing but an attempt to poison me in your eyes so that you will vote for four more years of Jon Corzine and his failed policies. Just so I am clear, what they are saying about my intentions to hurt pensions or lay off teachers is absolutely, 100% untrue.

Here are the facts:

* I will be a strong ally for teachers in the classroom. When elected, I will make education funding a top priority and I believe we must ensure those dollars reach our children and the classroom, not the educational bureaucracy. In these tough economic times, we must ensure that the proper resources get to you, the teachers in the classroom. Despite what is said by my opponents, I would accept federal education stimulus dollars to help fund our children’s educations. Education is a priority and this money is critical to ensuring we are able to continue giving our children the education they deserve. We must also make sure that education dollars are always a priority and come from stable sources. Too often these grants or stimulus dollars are accepted for programs with no plan on how to pay for them after the money runs dry. It is time for a new era of responsibility in Trenton, and I will work to secure a steady source of funding for all education programs.

* I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. In fact, in order to ensure your retirement savings are safe, I believe we must prioritize the protection of pension fund dollars and investigate the cause of Jon Corzine’s large investment losses to our pension system. Currently there is a $34 billion deficit in the State’s pension fund, which threatens the retirement and lifeline of so many teachers. We must do better for our teachers, future teachers and retirees. As Governor, I will work to close unfunded liabilities and make sure our state lives up to its promises, unlike Jon Corzine. I will not raid your pension fund to cover budgetary shortfalls like previous governors of both parties have done. One of the changes I will bring to Trenton is responsible management, investment, and oversight of state pension dollars.

* I will not end collective bargaining and will safeguard protections for ALL public employees, including teachers. Collective bargaining is an important safeguard for public employees and is a part of a long American tradition of self government. We must make sure that the voice of every worker is represented in contract negotiations. I will demand open, honest, and fair deliberations.

It’s true that times are tough. But the truth is that Jon Corzine has handed the NJEA and every student a ticking time bomb in this year’s budget. He has funded the new school aid formula with $1 billion in one-shot revenue that will disappear next year. Every school budget and academic, athletic, and extra-curricular program for our kids is at risk because of the Governor’s reckless, short-sighted policy. Governor Corzine has refused to make the tough decisions required to make sure we make education funding a priority for recurring revenue and to avoid the ticking time bomb.

We may disagree on some issues, but I know we agree on what’s most important – delivering the best education we can for our kids. Giving New Jersey’s children a quality education is critical to their future and I know we wouldn’t be able to do that without the dedication and tireless commitment of teachers like you. I appreciate you allowing me to clear up some of the misinformation being circulated about my plans to support our state’s teachers.

Thank you for your service, and best wishes on a great school year.

UPDATE: Here's an archived HTML version, complete with saccharine photo.


thinker said...

Thank you for posting this. I have been trying to find it for a few weeks now as I was going to show it to some republican friends. Unfortunately, I could not locate it and the original site it was on was down. Bravo, now I will always know where to find it!

Duke said...

You're welcome. I think several others have saved it as well; I will try to find the original in .pdf format and post that.

If the rumors we're hearing from the Christie camp are even partially true, this letter will come back to haunt him worse than Scrooge.

Anonymous said...

THINKER: You can always do a search on the Wayback Machine (Google it) to find cached versions of web pages. This is one page that I'm sure is cached.

Now what I'd like to see is people post this all over the internet. Don't let him get away with this. He's a liar.

thinker said...

Thanks anon, will keep that in mind. I had tried to google it (not using wayback) and was unsuccessful.

Duke, I wish I felt as optimistic as you do about this letter haunting him. All I see and hear are people who don't seem to care that the man is a liar; nonetheless, I still like to have the proof in hand to confront them with.

I have a feeling that people are going to need to see and feel how bad things can get before they open their eyes. I'm sure I will have given up on finding a teaching position by then :(

Duke said...

Don't give up - we need people in this field who are committed and love the job. You are going to have to sit tight for a bit, but market economics dictates that when you decrease the salaries/benefits of teachers, fewer people will be willing to do the job.

Unless, lord help us, they decide to lower standards. There are yahoos out there who probably are for teachers not needing a degree if it saves them a few bucks.

I am convinced that people are angry because the middle class in this state and in this country are getting screwed. They see public employees as people who have retained what they used to have: decent health care, reasonable retirements.

There are two reactions to this: be angry at the people who have what you want, or be angry with the people who are denying you what you want.

Christie's genius is that he's made folks think that public employees not only have what taxpayers want; they are the ones DENYING them what they want. But that can only work so long. Taking away teacher health care won't get anyone else their health care, and I do believe people are going to figure that out soon enough.

If not... well, then we're all doomed. I'm a snarky bastard, but I do retain my faith in people. We'll see how naive I am soon enough.

Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jazzman, I saved this letter and the link to Christie's web site months ago because I knew he was lying. He's broken every promise he made to teachers, public workers, students, taxpayers, and seniors. The only promise he's kept is the tax break he promised his millionaire buddies.

I tried the link I saved and the web site is down. I guess Christie decided it's better not to have broken promises where everyone can see them. I searched online and found a link to your blog. Thanks for posting this. I hope you don't mind if I share the link as people bring this up.

Best to you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for publishing this. I searched for it months ago after the governor took it down. What a load of hooey.