Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Governor Christie's budget address
Governor Christie made his budget address today - a long awaited moment!
He said that he cared deeply about public education and will restore 250 million to the schools. Good!
But what happened to the 1.3 billion cut last year - that's five times what we are getting back!
What about the 10,000 state education workers cut?
What about larger class sizes and the programs lost? We are all feeling it!
The governor says that it's not about blue and red, it's about the "black and white" of fiscal difficulty and our need to rectify issues in our state budget.
He says that New Jersey has had enough and that the state workers can't enjoy "rich benefits" paid for by the rest of the state.
And he says that our schools need "fixing."
First of all, state workers are contributing to their benefits and have worked out ways to share fiscal responsibilities with the state. These efforts need to be applauded and highlighted to the public so that the public realizes how collaborative state workers are.
In its fiscal planning, the state of New Jersey needs to restore ALL of the education cuts, to maintain the high level of education we have enjoyed. The governor believes that cutting the taxes of the rich, and taxing teachers is the way to balance our budget, but state workers are not the problem! Governor Christie's priorities are all wrong and the damage will be done to our children!
If we want our state to be on the cutting edge, to increase the use of 21st Century tools, to improve an already excellent state education, we need to fund it, at least at the level we were funding it prior to our fiscal crisis!
Austerity cannot be applied to our children. Without the clear and focused support of our students, we cannot create a future that will sustain this state.
State workers deferred their compensation and accepted benefit packages in lieu of increased wages. Now, they are being asked to contribute 30% to these benefits which would increase a teacher's contribution to 15% of their salary. Teachers are modestly paid, state workers entrusted with the immensely important job of educating our state's children. When we cut their compensation, we cut their ability to teach the children - teachers are laid off, resources cut, programs eviscerated or lost. The quality of education, overall, plummets.
We cannot fund tax cuts on the backs of teachers, fire fighters and other public workers.
Governor Christie's budget pits middle class New Jersians against the very workers who support their towns and the education of their children. While speaking words of "A day of reckoning" and "a new normal," the Governor proposes a state which under funds its public employees, cuts taxes for the rich and decimates public education as we know it, in favor of privatization, division and distress.
I'm glad that we will get some money back for education in New Jersey. I look forward to a day when the Governor sits down at the table with the representatives of our teachers to map out a plan for a future of success and triumph for all New Jersey citizens!