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

Friday, October 1, 2010

Yes, Virginia, The Toolkit Will Save Money

There's a new song being sung across the Garden State:

We need the Christie toolkit.

We really need the toolkit.

I mean, we've really, REALLY got to have this toolkit!


Yes, everyone loves the toolkit. Uh, just a quick question:

How much money is it going to save, anyway?

I only ask because Christie has this habit of proposing "major" reform that doesn't actually save any substantial amounts of money. Like his cap on superintendents' pay, which even supporters admit won't do squat.

So, have any of the toolkit warriors even bothered to actually run a cost-benefit analysis and figure out how much, roughly, we're actually going to save with it? Because if they have, I can't find it.

And if you actually look at the proposals, it becomes apparent that they really aren't going to do much to save money any time soon, if at all. #3 has to do with how arbitrators are selected to negotiate union contracts. Is this a big cost driver in NJ? #33 calls for a single household ballot.

Uh, wha, huh?!?

A lot of the toolkit is about allowing more senior, better-paid employees to be laid off in favor of younger, lesser-paid employees. Aside from the unbelievable cynicism involved here, what makes anyone think we really have that much more to cut? We are already cutting into the bone of the schools. Transit has been decimated. The libraries are dying. We're even cutting cops and firefighters. How much more can we cut?

I mean, I'm all for consolidation and shared services where it makes sense, but is there really that much more to be saved here? Is driving more state employees into early retirement really the answer?

Much is made of capping teacher pay increases in the toolkit. Except in the latest contracts, increases are already being held at 1.6%. Is that out of control?

The plain fact is that the toolkit does nothing - NOTHING - to address the largest issues facing NJ's taxpayers:

  • Runaway healthcare costs, with insurance companies making obscene profits at taxpayer expense
  • Pension obligations the state and towns ran from for the last 20 years (even while employees paid all of their obligations)
  • An insane reliance on regressive property taxes

Go ahead, pundits and plutocrats - pass the damn thing. It won't do a thing to rein in these factors.
Yes, it will make a few tea-party types feel better that public workers are getting screwed, but that's about it.

But if I'm wrong - go ahead and show me. I'm dying to see your "proof." Because right now, I have about as much evidence that the toolkit will save money as I do that Santa will bring me a new X-Box for Christmas.

No comments: