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

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Magical, Mystical TOOLKIT!

The Toolkit is all-powerful! It can solve EVERYTHING!
The cap was just two bills in a 33-bill reform package Gov. Chris Christie unveiled in May. His tool kit was not just about putting a hard cap on tax increases and government spending increases, it was about loosening the rules of the game so towns, school districts and other government units could start to drastically reduce spending and require fewer taxpayer dollars to operate.
It's like running a business -- you don't have to increase the price of merchandise in the store when the rent goes down and other overhead costs are reduced.
That's what Christie's tool kit is all about.
Oh, it's just like running a business, is it? I find it very, very funny to hear NEWSPAPERS - which are dying across the nation - lecture about running businesses. But if you really want to make that analogy:

1) You can't expect people to be happy to pay MORE for your merchandise when the quality is reduced - just like people are paying MORE in property taxes and their school programs and town services are being slashed. Businesses raise their prices all the time, but no good business ever charges MORE while giving their customers LESS.

2)  When your rent goes down, that doesn't necessarily make up for the explosion in your other costs - say, health care and pension liabilities. Which the toolkit does NOTHING to contain.

3) The entire "run business like government" analogy is just plain STUPID anyway! Schools are not businesses; towns are not businesses. Most businesses fail; we can't afford to have ANY schools fail.
It's insane. If the majority Democrats in the state Senate and Assembly think all they have to do is install a cap and just sit on their hands and hope the public and the governor forget about the other reforms, they're fools. They're fools who, like the leaders of public worker unions who support them, seem to think that if they dig in their heels enough, that New Jerseyans' desire for lower property taxes will disappear, that the budget deficits this state faces will vanish and that everything will be alright for them again, like it was in years past when governors were afraid to push for real spending reform.
Oh, it's insane alright: insane to think that runaway spending is the problem.

Again: NJ ranks 40th - 40th!!! - in spending as a burden on income. We pay our teachers less than those right across the border in NY. Our pensions are well in line with other states in the region. Public employees who have college degrees make significantly less than those in the private sector. Teacher salaries have grown more slowly than the average salary in NJ. I've linked to this data over and over again on this blog - these facts should not be in dispute.

Spending is not the issue: taxation is. Everyone agrees we rely far too much on property taxes, yet no one is willing to come out and address this problem. It's so much more fun to beat up on unions, don't you think?

Civil service reform is not going to solve this. Making hearings less expensive isn't going to solve this. Allowing furloughs isn't going to solve this. Capping pay and benefits isn't going to solve this. Again - we are 40th in spending as a percentage of income! How much lower are we going to go?

Is there anyone with the intellectual capacity of a fairly smart 12-year-old who is going to come out and say we have so many more unnecessary cops and social workers and teachers in NJ than in other states? This is REALLY the problem? Seriously?

But our media just refuses to even allow this counter argument to be made - to the point that the contradictions have become embarrassing:

Among the tool kit bills that would help greatly: 
Allowing furloughs by local governments. 
Meeting with the Courier-Post Editorial Board Thursday to discuss the frighteningly high number of police officers, firefighters and other city workers Camden will soon have to lay off, Camden Mayor Dana Redd -- a Democrat and a former state senator -- also made sure to mention that the tool kit legislation is needed.

So, to avoid layoffs... we need to allow furloughs?!?!

This has gone beyond stupid. When are we going to inject some sanity into this discussion?

1 comment:

thinker said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I fear that all this nonsense needs to come to pass in order for the people to see what a joke it all is. When all this stuff happens and taxes continue to rise and nothing has been solved, what will be the answer then? Who will be the "new" group to blame and hate? Today at work, I watched a teacher desperately try to plan instructional time around all the mandated tests she has to fit in. I watched students spend MOST of the day on testing and it is only OCTOBER! Is this really what we want our schools to become? It breaks my heart.