Governor Christie is saying the passage of the reform bill requiring state workers to pay more for their pension benefits is his biggest victory as a governor.
But is the problem solved now?
There were no major changes in labor laws and union organization when the recession first began to take hold. Yet state budgets were coming apart and revenue was disappearing, leading to higher taxes and less spending all over.
If you’re looking for someone to blame, the Washington Post suggests looking toward Wall Street, the banking industry, and bad home mortgages, for starters.
The Daily Kos says to blame someone on pension for the budget deficits compares to blaming individual bank tellers for bank collapses and bailouts. Her wages are small potatoes compared to $117 million in tax breaks the legislature gave to businesses this year. With the entire shortfall being $137 million, the shortfall could've been $20 million.Bob Braun of the Star-Ledger points out that Christie’s biggest victory will come mainly at the expense of ordinary people, and the middle class.
Jeffrey Keefe, professor at the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations, says the increased payments will have the same effect as a tax increase.
“The middle class is now seen as coddled,’’ he said. “With that many people taking a pay cut, that’s money that won’t be spent on goods and services.’’
Lots of jobs and businesses are leaving New Jersey. Are we going to be offering tax breaks to attract new ones? While public employee givebacks can help to close up a state’s budget deficits, maybe its leaders need to do a little housecleaning of their own. Like making the state’s pension payments. And the unions are not the cause of driving up health care costs.
Givebacks are necessary in these kind of economic times. But New Jersey has to share the responsibility for its budget problems, starting at the top.