"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Friday, June 02, 2006

Democrats Call For Budget Cuts, Corzine Remains Firm on Tax Increases

State Senator Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), Assemblyman Gerald Green (D-Union) and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Gloucester) unveiled a proposal yesterday that would save about $700 million by cutting the $4.6 billion tab for state employees’ salaries and benefits by 15 percent. The lawmakers’ proposal was accompanied by a 34-page presentation of statistics that showed state workers enjoy pay, benefits and time off from work (vacation, holiday, sick and personal days) exceeding the average received by workers in New Jersey’s private sector. It also highlighted the fact state employees only put in a 35 hour work week.

Sweeney, Moriarty and Green displayed charts comparing the state's "Government World" with the "Real World."

"We cannot afford this government," said Sen. Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), himself a business official with the Ironworkers union. "We need to get realistic with what we offer. We need the real world."

"This is not an attack on unions or employees, but we deal with reality," said Green. "The state of New Jersey cannot afford the luxury we had in the past."
We have been pointing out the negative impact the growth in government jobs has had on the state’s budget, as well as, the same facts about public employee salaries and benefits for more than a year. We’ve been met with a similar reaction as received by Sweeney, Moriarty and Green.

“This is frankly the kind of rhetoric we would expect from a right-wing Republican,” said Bob Master, regional legislative political director for the Communications Workers of America, the largest state union, which represents 35,000 state employees.

"I think it's an outrageous comment for a guy who purports to be a friend of working people," he said. "It's the kind of thing you would expect to hear from a Bush Republican, not a labor Democrat."

Assemblyman Joseph Cryan of Union County, the state Democratic chairman, said "Frankly, I'm mystified that [Sweeney] would take such an open and direct approach."
Apparently Bob Master and Cryan only expect to hear facts, logic and fairness from right-wing Bush Republicans. Imagine three Democrats willing to stand up and represent the more than three million workers in New Jersey who are not government employees.

Sweeney said he was angered by a union flyer that asked legislators to support a proposed increase in the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent - "so that," he said, "state workers don't have to experience the pain that every taxpayer in the state is going to experience."
Governor Corzine’s spokesman, Anthony Coley, said "the governor has no plans to tamper with the provisions of current contracts".

But there is something the Governor can do if public employees won’t voluntarily agree to give-backs; he can cut the size of the state’s workforce. The fastest growing employment sector in New Jersey is government, with the increase in state employees being the greatest. As we’ve said before, the size of the state’s workforce in not governed by contract.

Governor Corzine said he wanted alternatives to his 9.2 percent budget increase and the largest tax increase in New Jersey’s history – well here are few more for him to chew on. Let’s see if Corzine’s really up to making “hard choices’”.

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At 2:53 PM, Anonymous njcons said...

I posted on this this morning and suggested that we all contact our representitives to back the gang of three. I sent an email to my three Lance, Karrow and Doreghty. Maybe if wnough people do a movement will start.

At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual, this is inaccurate reporting regarding state work force.
Yes, state employees get better wages and benefits then the average McDonalds employee BUT, they do not get better wages then their counterparts in private industry. State IT workers are paid significantly less then the private sector. The state often hires private consultants to work on large IT projects whom are paid 2 to 3 times what their equivilant state IT worker is paid. While the state may have too many clerical and support workers, the state is signifcantly under staffed when it comes to IT workers thus the need to employ private consultants when undertaking large IT projects.

The governor has already invoked a hiring freeze which will probably extend throughout the year.

At 6:05 PM, Blogger PN said...

On a total compensation basis, some state employees do receive less than private sector counterparts. However, the majority of state employees would never make as much (or do as little) in the private sector as they do now.

NJ Fiscal Folly

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Bob said...

B4 we bank on this $700 million . . .

Why on Earth would state workers agree to roll back their wages? When parties enter into collective bargaining, there is a give and take. Much like baseball players, a contract is negotiated for a given length of time. Both sides agree to it. It is inherently unfair to demand changes mid contract.

I do not recall my union going back to my employer in 1998 claiming that because the market was doing so well we should rip up the contract and pay me 11% more because that is what investments were making.

And if I went public with that demand back then, I am certain you would have some choice words for me.

Nowhere did Sweeney present a rollback of legislators' salaries. Nowhere did he state that he should become a part-time state employee like most other states.

This is gamemanship.

No one is going to cut state employee paychecks in 28 days. Nor should they.

We are in a financial mess and time is of the essence. Let's not get bogged down in what is not going to happen.

There is still plenty of money to slash that is realisticly on the table.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger The Pot said...

Bob Master: "I think it's an outrageous comment for a guy who purports to be a friend of working people."

I assume by "working people," Mr. Master is referring to the 35,000 CWA union members employed by the State AND NOT the rest of us who work more than 35 hours a week, don't get 5 weeks vacation, a large number of sick days and multiple personal days just so we can pay the high taxes in this state (which pays for the corruption and waste in state and county governments, not to mention all the salaries of the 35,000 "working people" in the state).

At 7:33 PM, Anonymous motocrossed said...

Hmmmmm, I have been with the state 24.5 years and I get excactly 20 vacation days, which I just started getting a year ago. I work a 40 hour work week, sometimes more and I get 2 personal days a year. Doesn't seem so extravagant to me.
The only ones who make out like the private sector are the politicians, you know, freebees, free travel, gifts etc, see they are not held to the same level of ethics we (rank and file state workers) are. BUT, they the politicians resolve all issues by demanding that we have ethics training. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA


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