“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More On Christie's NJ Budget Cuts

Yesterday's post attracted some attention, including being linked on some other blogs and websites in NJ.

According to some press accounts, Christie's poll numbers fell on the news of his cuts.

Given the shocking numbers contained in the Wall Street Journal article, from which I quoted in yesterday's post, it's rich to read another Journal piece, specifically related to Christie's plans.

In last Wednesday's Journal, an article noted,

"Unions representing police officers and firefighters have said hundreds of their members would likely retire earlier than intended with passage of the bills, which could become a public safety issue."

So typical of union leaders to issue empty threats.

Like these older retirees won't be immediately replaced with fewer, younger, less expensive workers? With defined contribution pension plans, rather than defined benefit plans?

How will that compromise public safety? Sounds like it's going to immediately enhance public fiscal safety!

The teacher friend to whom I referred in yesterday's post was shocked to learn that none other than JFK was responsible for allowing state and municipal workers to unionize. She didn't understand the implications, until I explained that the change meant government union members then had reasons to vote for candidates who promised more union jobs and lusher benefits.

In effect, candidates ran on platforms of favoring union members over the voters who would pay for the benefits. Of course, when government workers were represented by a union, it became easier for them to vote in a bloc for labor-oriented, usually Democratic candidates.

It's quite believable that, in the very short term, many voters are against Christie's cuts. Some are government union workers. Others, many others, have family or friends who will be affected. Still others probably are scared that services will decline.

Well, here's a message to all of them, and especially the last group. New Jersey has literally been living on borrowed time and money for decades. Kean and Whitman contributed to this mess, just as Florio, McGreevey and Corzine. They all lied to voters about the affordability of a growing governmental budget and government employment levels.

Now harsh medicine is required, and people are balking.

I recall the initial months of Ronald Reagan's first budget cuts. He wasn't universally popular at first. But as the economy got moving and inflation abated, he was justly accorded credit for the results.

I'm sure Christie will be, too, in time. But before then, a lot of unnecessary state and local workers will feel the pain of job loss, and coddled voters will have to learn to live with state and local government service levels they can actually afford.

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