Governor Christie Signs N.J. Public Worker Pension and Health Benefits Reform Bill

by Donald Hanson • June 28, 2011 • Newsy JerseyComments (0)1430

Gov. Chris Christie is set to sign what he calls his biggest legislative accomplishment today. The employee benefits bill requires more than 500,000 teachers, police and other public workers to pay part of their health care premiums based on their incomes. Their pension contributions will also rise.

The state’s retirement systems are underfunded by $110 billion. Christie says higher contributions are needed to guarantee future pensions.

The governor predicts that New Jersey’s fix will be hailed as a national model.

Public worker unions say the pension system is in the red primarily because the state has skipped its annual payment for years. The new law requires the state to phase in its contribution

The labor leaders testified that health benefits should be negotiated, not legislated, and urged the panel to split the measure into separate bills. For four hours, union leaders pleaded in vain with Democratic legislators to vote against the measure, which was approved by a 9-4 vote.

“You are trampling on our fundamental democratic rights,” said Bob Master, political director of the Communications Workers of America, the state’s largest public employee union. “Real Democrats would kill this bill.”

The issue here is obviously that there is not enough money collected in taxes to pay for the Government programs and workers. The Government should never run at a deficit. People need to realize that there is only a certain amount of money available for the services that we receive from our Government unless they want to pay more in taxes. There are stories in the news all the time involving corruption and bureaucracy costing the government to waste hundreds of millions and sometimes billions of dollars with the tax-payer having nothing to show for it. There is also the issue of the people at the top being in control of their own salaries and perks which is a total conflict of interest. What should be of Paramount importance should be to fix those problems first and aggressively before taking money out of the hands of people who didn’t do anything wrong and are actually contributing to society.

Obviously this bill is going to give people less money to spend overall, resulting in all areas of business declining from less sales as well as falling home prices. Now that is perfectly okay if there is simply not enough money to pay for the plans that our Government has drawn up. But the budget needs to be cleaned first. Another problem is that tax revenue changes as a result of economic variables. Therefore, programs and workers need to have flexible contracts. When the Government takes in more money, programs and workers get more and when the Government takes in less money, the workers get less. Anything else just doesn’t make any sense and clearly doesn’t work. What would make the most sense would be to present multiple plans to the public every couple of years showing how much money is available in taxes and how it could be spent. Then the public can vote on how much they think government workers of various positions should be paid and agree to pay more taxes if they want higher salaries or more programs. The simple fact of the matter is that we have to live within our means.

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