"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Monday, June 05, 2006

There Are Other Considerations Than The Bottom Line

Last week three lawmakers in Trenton called upon state employees to voluntarily forgo a scheduled 5 percent pay raise next year and accept changes to benefit plans that would put state workers closer in line with the private sector. They estimated their plan would save New Jersey taxpayers about 15 percent on the state’s $4.6 billion tab for state employees.

Today the Herald editorializes on the 'giveback' option in what has to be one of the most ludicrous pieces we’ve read on the subject. The writer(s) even manage to get in “it’s for the children”, but of course teachers are not state employees – not yet anyway.

As they say read the whole thing, but here a few graphs to get you started. Warning: Take beverage precautions while reading this.

The frustrations of New Jersey's intense budgeting process boiled over late last week when high-ranking Democrats clashed over a controversial push that would force a scale back of unionized state employees' benefits and perks.

Givebacks, they say, are in order because many state workers enjoy a wide range of privileges that just aren't available to ordinary workers in the private sector. These include a 35-hour workweek, 17 paid holidays and retirement eligibility beginning at age 55.

Certainly, these so-called perks can easily invite a certain resentment from middle-class New Jerseyans who struggle to make ends meet, battle among the highest property taxes in the nation, and struggle mightily to pay their health and insurance bills.

Yet it's important to remember that state government in New Jersey is not a business, but a living breathing part of democracy. There are, and there should be, other considerations than "the bottom line."

As for the 35-hour work week, few are the public school teachers of this state who do all the work required of them in the allotted hours for which they are officially paid. They toil day after day in classrooms where the rewards of making a difference in a child's life cannot truly be measured in dollars and cents.



5 Comments:

At 6:03 PM, Anonymous Bob said...

Teachers may not be state employees (although, wouldn't the higher ed teachers be?). But we are in the pension system that everyone is eyeing.

The "giveback" option is ridiculous. Notice Mr. Sweeney did not call for scaling back legislative salaries. Nor did he put on the table of cutting state legislators from full-time employees to part-time.

This is just for show. The "givebacks" called for are negotiated items controlled by collective bargaining agreements. We are down to 25 days before the budget is due. Collective bargaining is not going to take place in that time.

We should not be sidetracked with this sideshow.

 
At 6:17 PM, Anonymous roberto said...

I almost fell on the floor laughing after the editorial said ". . . so called perks". I think most people consider 17 holidays, banking of sick time and a 35 hour work week to be a perk, but not the editorial writers at the Herald.

 
At 10:27 PM, Anonymous Jim - PRS said...

The third paragraph is an absolute side-splitter. "... a living breathing part of democracy."

Living and breathing? Sort of like Godzilla.

 
At 8:07 AM, Blogger WjcW said...

What they seem to be missing is that the government has no competition to keep them in check. Look at the autoworkers, airlines, etc, those union benefits will find a steady state (or factories will be shuttered) based on what the market will bear. That will never happen in government because there is no market force to keep compensation in check. There is virtually no relief from the public employee unions asking for more and more, at a certain point companies in the private sector become non-profitable and cease to exsist, no so with the state, it just raises taxes. It was telling that Mr. Sweeney, as a union official, supported the givebacks citing disparities between his own union and that of our public employees. Heck, even George McGovern wrote an opinion piece a couple days ago more or less saying the unions have asked for too much. (he did include one neat fact demonstrating the non-impact of management salaries, if the CEO of Walmart with a multi-million ($25MM maybe) compensation package, gave it up as a bonus to Walmart employees, it would be the equivalent of a $20 bonus)

 
At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is appalling. Thanks for the bev warning.

spongeworthy

 

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