Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Governor Christie needs to explain

By now most people have heard about New Jersey's Governor, Chris Christie.  He is one of those politicians who have no problem in saying what they want and getting away with it.  It appears he has the "teflon" effect going for him. 
I write this post the day after I attended a Township Committee meeting in Hamilton Township (Atlantic County) New Jersey.  The Township Committee had the unpleasant task of announcing lay offs of over 40 Township employees.  The meeting was packed with residents, employees, and reporters.  To begin with the room is quite large, larger than most local government meeting roooms in New Jersey.  The crowd over flowed into the rotunda where a television broadcast the meeting.  {read the article regarding the Hamilton Township Committee meeting at http://www.examiner.com/elections-2010-in-atlantic-city/hamilton-township-lays-off-41-employees-and-plans-to-increase-taxes }.
I am not sure how the word spread about this meeting but I can guess it was via word of mouth of the employees, particularly the police.  But that is a good thing.  Whenever citizens come out to watch their local elected officials take action, it must be a good thing.  The only unfortunate part (besides the layoffs announced) was the absence of our esteemed Governor.
I wish Governor Christie was there last night.  He could have witnessed the looks on the faces of those in attendance.  He could have heard the words of those speaking to the local elected officials after they announced the layoffs.  I am sure he had much more pressing things to take care of, but he should attend one of these meetings.  Last night's meeting in Hamilton Township was the first one in New Jersey where layoffs were announced due to the pressures of this year's budget. 
With the police being the most vocal, the consensus of the citizens speakers were "why?". Why is the Township allowing this to happen?  Why are they sacrificing safety?  Why are they laying off those workers who help senior citizens?  It is not so difficult to answer the question as it is for the reasoning of how this is all came to be.  Surely, property taxes are high in New Jersey in just about every municipality and the Governor's major goal is to reduce property taxes.  But last night, the Township Committee announced the taxes would again be increased. 
Taxes being increased, although capped at 2%, is a common response in New Jersey municipalities facing a budget shortfall.  But now the tax increases are coming with layoffs and services being cut.  And the fact that the Township Committee announced that more layoffs may be coming down the road soon was not the kind of news anyone wants to hear.  But that is what could happen, if the State (i.e., Governor Christie), does not give the Township the same or higher amount of State aid it received last year ($800,000). 
When Governor Christie announced during his first year in office that he needed to make sacrifices in order to save New Jersey from going bankrupt, he asked that it be a "shared sacrifice".  The problem with the "shared sacrifice" argument is that it has not been a "shared" sacrifice.  It has become the sacrifice of those who need services but don't get them, it has become the sacrifice of public workers (namely, teachers, police, firefighters, and other local government workers) and most unfortunately, it has become the sacrifice of New Jersey's school children.
While the wealthiest among us have received tax breaks along with the promise of no new taxes, the remainder of New Jersey is paying the price.  Not only do our public workers get laid off, furloughed, have their wages frozen, benefits cut, told their pensions are "too rich", but we also get increases in our property taxes, increases in our highway's tolls, and increases in the fares for public transportation. 
Governor Christie needs to realize that his way is hurting the majority of New Jersey's residents while bolstering the wealthiest and the largest businesses of our State.  Last week's announcement that the newest Atlantic City casino will receive a $261 million tax break is proof that the Governor's priorities are not with the working people of New Jersey, but with the corporate executives.  It is time for him to take ownership of his deeds.
Governor Christie, come out to a Township meeting and explain to all those in attendance exactly why layoffs and cuts to services and programs are being made while your big business friends are getting breaks left and right.

No comments:

Post a Comment