The Senate Legislative Oversight Committee Interviews Bret Schundler

During questioning from Senator Barbara Buono today, Schundler describes hearing that Governor Christie was nixing the final draft of our Race To The Top application that represented a compromise between the DOE and the NJEA:

Schundler: “The Governor called me Friday morning. I was about to go to a meeting at Liberty Science Center and I got a call on my cellphone. The Governor said he was going to abandon the application. He said that he heard Jim Gearhart [morning show host on 101.5 FM] say that he had caved in to the union on these points. He said that he had been demeaned by the union. That after all of their attacks on him he was not going to go through the fire merely to cave in to the union. He said that emphatically and for a rather extended period of time.”

Buono: "What were your instructions?"

Schundler: "I ultimately had a chance to respond and say, ‘Governor, we are not caving in. The Union has agreed to everything we have asked for except for one significant point that has to do with the Reduction in Force issue.' I tried to get the Governor to understand that we weren’t giving up our reform agenda…nothing precluded us from [pursuing other reforms] afterwards but if we had the unions on board with us I was almost certain that we’d win the 400 million dollars. At the close of that conversation the Governor said that he was even more upset then, that we’d allow victory to be spun as defeat, that in our own description of the agreement with NJEA we’d allowed them to say that we’d compromised on so many fronts.”

Buono: “The portrait you have painted of a governor under oath who has sacrificed 400 million dollars to further a personal vendetta is extremely troubling.”

Schundler: “I don’t know if it was a personal vendetta. I know it was a bad decision.”

Senator Paul Sarlo: “We did not elect Jim Gearhart to make policy decisions for NJ.”

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