The comparison isn’t precise, so few are, but Chris Christie, in his quest to right New Jersey’s fiscal ship of State, has shown a brass ideological constitution and political savvy to which we aren’t accustomed here in Jersey.
Over the past few weeks, Christie has been engaged in an increasingly bitter fight with the NJEA and its President, Barbara Keshishian, over the Governor’s proposed education spending cuts and, more importantly, over his completely reasonable request that the teachers union agree to a one-year pay increase freeze to stave off the need for the cuts that would directly affect students.
The union has, in response, told New Jersey taxpayers and students to pound sand. Christie, with echoes of Ronald Reagan, isn’t backing down.
New Jersey is facing an absurd $10.7 billion budget deficit for fiscal 2011; the end result of years of unchecked spending and the corresponding, inevitable shrinking tax base. Between 2004 and 2008, New Jersey lost approximately $70 billion in wealth and revenue as our State’s businesses and affluent residents took the fast train out of Dodge to avoid being taxed to death. The exodus was and is the wholly predictable yet avoidable result of liberal tax and spend policy. New Jersey’s chickens, as they say, have come home to roost.
But rather than agreeing to contribute a very small portion of their publicly funded salaries to help bring the State’s finances back into a sustainable equilibrium, what is the NJEA’s solution to the problem? Take it away Barbara:
…[by] reinstating a very modest tax on the very wealthiest New Jersey residents, those making more than $400,000 per year.
A quote by Benjamin Franklin, often incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein, on the definition of insanity comes immediately to mind.
Just this week Christie has, 1) “offer[ed] more state aid to school districts whose teachers agree to a wage freeze for the 2011 fiscal year” and, 2) agreed to allow teachers who renegotiate their contracts before May 22 (with the one-year pay hike freeze) to forego the new 1.5% contribution toward the cost of their health benefits. The union has thus far refused to support either modest concession. But it’s all about the kids, right?
Chris Christie is writing the playbook on fiscal sanity for the rest of the Country before our very eyes and is taking head-on the NJEA’s greed and selfishness in the process. Christie has made it abundantly clear that teachers themselves are not the issue, however misled by their union so many of them have been for so long.
Ask yourselves the following question: if the NJEA is truly concerned with full funding for New Jersey’s kids, why won’t they agree to a one-year wage freeze in order to ensure that that happens?
The Gipper would be proud of Chris Christie. I know I am.