I was forwarded the following letter last night by someone who wished not to be identified. The person took acception to Governor Christie’s recent statement that urged voters to turn down their local school budget if teachers in their towns refused to take a wage freeze .
I agree with the letter writer and the comments that this person added at the bottom of it from a few who responded to the story that was posted on NJ.com about the governor’s comments.
I think the governor’s comments were both reckless and callous. If voters turn down school budgets across the state next week it will result in more teachers being let go and sports programs and after school activities being cut or eliminated, which would be a real shame due to the fact that many students need of those types of programs for possible scholarships opportunities and to bulk up their college transcripts in order to get into their preferred college of choice.
Here’s the letter:
Imagine telling your grown kids, heck, your parents how to vote. I don’t know about you but it would go over like a lead balloon in many New Jersey households. I believe one of the basic tenets of the constitution is the right to make a free and unfettered choice on how to vote on Election Day. Chris Christie must have missed that day in civics class.
I would never have believed this headline if I had not read it for myself.
“Gov. Chris Christie urges voters to reject school districts’ budgets without wage freezes for teachers” NJ.com
First of all, you have to wonder what the real reason is behind this declaration. Is it that Christie is nervous about the tax increases that have accompanied those proposed budgets? The ones that were caused by “The self-proclaimed “conservative” Republican is cutting suburban property tax relief by amounts unimaginable even under the liberal Democrat he defeated” to quote Paul Mulshine.
Those tax increases scare him and that does not even take into account what will happen the following school year when districts have no tax relief to offer their residents. He may be at war with the NJEA but his GOP legislators are the ones who have to hang their hats and their necks on the line for this budget, especially next year when they run for election. From what I hear the legislative kitchen is getting pretty hot these days.
Then you have to wonder why the Governor doesn’t lead by example. Let him take a pay cut and contribute 1.5% of his salary to his health insurance. Well he hasn’t even offered. Neither have all those legislators in Trenton who should know better.
They can’t even get the stories straight in Trenton, because today at a Senate budget hearing , Department of Education Commissioner Bret Schundler said he would not recommend voters reject those budgets when they go to the polls on April 20. Schools are dealing with a nearly $820 million cut in funding while facing increasing salary and benefits costs. He tried to reinterpret what the Governor said to make it sound more palatable. I’m sorry, I like many other voters choked on the Governor’s very clear words.
If you check out the latest Monmouth University/Gannett poll it makes it very clear.
The governor is more likely to be blamed by registered voters for impending teacher layoffs statewide than either the teachers unions or local school boards, according to the results of a Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll.
Fully 44 percent cite Christie as the party responsible for school districts reducing work forces in order to balance budgets for the next school year, while 28 percent blame the unions and 17 percent the school boards, according to poll results.
“It’s Goliath versus Goliath,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch. “But the governor’s bluster in taking on the teachers union has backfired.”
It goes on to say,
When asked specifically about the governor’s proposed cuts in state aid to towns and school districts, more than half (52%) feel those cuts are unfair in comparison to cuts made in other areas of the budget. Only 28% say these cuts in local aid are fair.
“The local aid reduction, particularly to schools, was always going to be the flashpoint for criticism of the plan, and the governor’s clash with the NJEA only increased the heat. If part of his strategy was to win over public opinion, it hasn’t been an overwhelming success,” said Murray.
I don’t even need a poll to tell me that. I found some particularly enlightening words on Bluejersey.com.
I think it’s fair to say the students are being held hostage in the disputes between the Governor, the school boards, and the unions. In that complex multi-sided hostage standoff, Christie just asked the bystanders to shoot the hostages. We already have voters who routinely reject school budgets because they resent paying taxes for the public school system that has been benefiting our society for generations. To recklessly ask them to reject budgets wholesale is in my opinion a shocking tactic, especially when rejecting a budget will not release school districts from the contract their leadership willingly signed. Rejecting the budget won’t hurt most teachers directly.
I say let people judge each budget on its own merits. Let’s not let anyone dictate to us how we should vote. In Middletown, the budget has been cut by a staggering amount ($9,608,000) and is already putting 124 district personnel on the street in July. Those people and many others will be joining the ranks of the unemployed who will require unemployment benefits from our deleted funds. They may find more residents going into foreclosure and selling homes, dampening a poor housing market.
The one thing I can promise is that if budget are voted down your kids will be the ones that are hurt.
Just listen to some fellow residents posting on NJ.com
Posted by lakeline
April 12, 2010, 3:14PM
I’m not a teacher, but I have two kids in school and I wish the Governor would stop hurting their education. Since he has failed to sway the Teacher’s Union himself, he’s pushing us to do it for him. Every failed budget reduces a kids education in multiple ways. Sure, negotiate with your teachers for reasonable compromises, but Vote Yes for your budget. We don’t all have the Governor’s money to send our kids to Private School
Posted by netspider
April 12, 2010, 2:44PM
Gov. Christie you have crossed the line with this statement. Shame on You. How can you ethically make a comment on how anyone should vote.
Posted by kadtom
April 12, 2010, 2:31PM
Are you kidding Me? The governor is now trying to dictate what the public people should do?? I can’t believe I voted for a dictator who’s children don’t even attend public schools? I moved to Chatham for the good schools. Good schools and location are why my property values are highly appraised. If I want to vote yes I will! Don’t dictate to the people who elected you governor! You lost my vote, that’s for sure.