Mr. Christie Goes to Trenton

The Governor just finished his budget address. (Full transcript right here.) First, the bottom line: a $819 million cut in education with reductions in aid of up to 5% of a school district’s budget; a push for Proposition 2 and ½, a constitutional amendment capping the growth of all local and state spending at 2 ½ percent per year; collective bargain reform.

Here are some highlights regarding school finance reform:

On the disconnect between a rotten economy and public employee benefits:
From 2002 to 2008, pension payments to retirees grew 56%, triple the inflation rate. Our benefits are too rich, most public employees contribute too little, and the taxpayers have had enough enough of out of control pensions to public sector unions while they are losing their own jobs, enough of losing their homes, and then being told by the union bosses that they must pick up the tab for rich pensions at the same time.
Description of union leadership:
Political muscle fueled by intimidation tactics, political bullying and smears of public officials who dare to disagree.
The “dual system” between those who “enjoy” rich benefits and those who pay for it:
My proposal is simple: school district employees should pay for a reasonable portion of their health care costs, just like every other New Jerseyan. If we do not end this dual system, state and local government will have to raise taxes endlessly to pay for it. Teachers are not the problem, they get it.
On NJEA’s “Bosses” vs. hard-working teachers:
The leaders of the union who represent these teachers, however, have used their political muscle to set up two classes of citizens in New Jersey: those who enjoy rich public benefits and those who pay for them. That has created a system that cannot be sustained - a system fueled by mandatory dues of more than $700 a year taken out of every one of the nearly 200,000 teachers' paychecks
On Typical Teacher Salary Increases:
Does a child learn more if the union gets 5% taxpayer funded raises every year for its members? This is nonsensical and self-serving - and we all know it.
Biggest Applause Line/Race To The Top Reference:
Just how arrogant has the union gotten? By refusing to accept merit pay and use it to reward their best members, the union may have cost New Jersey $400 million in race to the top school aid from Washington. They did this in a year when they complain about budget cuts; in a year when we could truly use the money. Ask yourself, just who is putting their personal interests ahead of our children's?