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 31, 2010

Bust a Cap In Your...

The S-L loves them some cap:
Gov. Chris Christie wants a 2 percent cap on total compensation (salaries and benefits) awarded to local employees, while Democrats say that is too harsh. Given rising health costs, meeting a hard 2 percent cap could force salary cuts year after year. 
Gee, maybe we should do something about those rising health costs then, huh? No? Not interested?
There is room for reasonable compromise. The salary cap could exempt health and pension costs, as the cap on property taxes does.
So, we want the cap to keep property taxes down. But we know that health care costs are the big driver, and that's exempted from both the tax and salary caps. But we need those caps. Even though they won't contain the cost drivers. Because we need them. To control costs. Except the costs that really count.

Or something....
But a salary cap is needed, despite the resistance of old-school Democrats. The bargaining rules have been rigged against taxpayers for too long, leading to ruinous increases in the regressive property tax.  
Oh, so the "regressive property tax" is ruinous. Gee, maybe we should fix that instead, huh? No? Not interested?
It is true, as Democrats says, that some progress has been made since former Gov. Jon Corzine passed a weaker version of a property tax cap, putting downward pressure on wages. Since 2005, binding arbitration awards for cops and firefighters have ranged from 3.96 percent in 2005 to 2.45 percent in the last six months of 2010.
Hey, I can think of something else that put "downward" pressure on wages: the economy. Teacher contracts are down to raises below 2%.

Of course, if teacher wages had kept pace with the average wage in New Jersey over the past two decades, teachers would be making MORE money than they do right now.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Senate President Steve Sweeney have both signaled a willingness to compromise. The governor may be tempted to take a hard line, even if it results in stalemate, and to use this issue to win Republican seats in next year’s election. 
That would lead to massive layoffs next year. Our hope is that he instead compromises, as he did on the property tax cap.
Yes, given his actions over the past year, that seems like a very reasonable hope...

(Did I use up all the Bloody Mary mix last week?)

1 comment:

thinker said...

How many teachers do you think will continue in a career where they are take a pay cut EVERY year, particularly when the starting salary was average at best? And how many college students will be lining up to go into teaching knowing that their first year salary is likely the highest they will ever be paid? And when (because it will happen eventually, our economy is cyclical) the economy recovers, we are still going to punish public sector workers with a cap on salaries while the private sector workers have no such cap, correct? Let me know how that works out for you NJ.

Someone please explain to me how this will not decimate the quality of the teaching force. I thought that quality teachers were sooooooo important, especially in urban schools. I thought this was so critically important that we simply HAVE to institute merit pay. Oh wait, you mean merit pay isn't really about teacher quality? Hunh.

Take a look at the whole picture people. All this governor has done is throw whatever he can at education in the hopes that something sticks that will lower teacher pay. It amazes me that more people don't see this.