>I received the following blog comment from reader Judy Repic, who was responding to my March 11th post Doesn’t Anyone Remember Christine Whitman? . I thought that it was a worthwhile comment that should be shared with everyone, so I’ve posted it below:
My question in all of this pension discussion is did either Florio or Whitman take just the portion that the state provided,or did they include the payments made by employees also? Governor Christie was a member of Morris County freeholders when this happened. His comment about “getting in the delorean and going back in time” is pretty cavalier when he was an elected official at the time.
Also, why should any man or woman who have to wear a protective vest have to conceed to giving up anything? Every day active members of PFRS kiss their spouse and family members good by, and that family member has to wonder for 8 hours if they will be welcoming them home or planning a funeral. These State Employees should never have to conceed to anything.
But,hisotically, politicians know how to push the buttons of the general public by accusing state workers of being overpaid for underperformance. The politicians can rile up the hard working general public into a frenzy by saying their world would be better if “x” changes are made. Attacking state workers pay is normally the “x” they use. However, the civil service test is open to everyone, it does not discrimate on any level, so in reality, every citizen in the state of New Jersey has the potential to become a state employee based on a test score.
How about the Governor, Assembly, and Senate start cutting some of their aids, secretaries, close down redundant posititions in Trenton. How about they post the pay of career Trenton employees with that of Police,Fire, Rescue and Corrections Officers who when 911 is dialed show up to aid you.
I am sick of all state employees being considered as lazy and over paid.
>In a CountyFair blog post on the website MediaMatters.org, blogger Jamison Foser asks a simple question “ Doesn’t Anyone Remember Christine Whitman? “
It’s a great read and analogy of what transpired in the early 1990’s when young Republican Governors were swept into office and faced huge budget deficits after Bill Clinton became President and what is happening today.
“A young Democrat is elected President on a theme of hope and change, does some of the things he was elected to do, Republicans howl and win control of Congress in a landslide mid-term election, and the media becomes infatuated with a new crop of Republican governors who are trying to dramatically reconfigure state budgets.
“That’s a reasonable summary of the current state of affairs, but it also describes the first few years of Bill Clinton’s presidency. But it isn’t the similarity that’s striking: After all, there’s a reason the phrase “history has a way of repeating itself” exists. Or, perhaps more appropriately: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” See, what’s really striking about the current situation is how few reporters seem to remember what happened in the 1990s.
Most notably, the past few weeks have seen massive media attention paid to state budget deficits, and attempts by Republican governors like Chris Christie to blame out-of-control pension obligations for those deficits (even as they pursue deficit-increasing tax cuts…”
Foser goes on to talk about how NJ Governor Christie Whitman cut taxes and raided the state pension fund in order to close New Jersey’s budget gap even though many critics warned that the State Pension system would see significant shortfall 15-20 years down the road, which of course is what is happening to be now!
“Whitman was one of those star Republican governors of the early 1990s. Like so many other Republican governors who win media attention for innovative approaches, she made her name through the not-so-innovative strategy of cutting taxes. Since she had to offset those tax cuts in order to balance New Jersey’s budget, she reduced payments into the state’s pension system. And that, as the New York Times noted last August, “contributed to the growth of the unfunded liability” that is now widely blamed for New Jersey’s budget shortfall.”
He went on to state that none of this should have come as a surprise to anyone because “when Whitman was defunding the pension system in order to cut taxes, there were warnings that this is exactly what would happen. Here, for example, is a September 5, 1994 Washington Post article:
“The first thing Christine Todd Whitman did upon taking office as governor of New Jersey in January was to cut the state’s income tax. Then in July, as she signed into law her first state budget, the Republican cut taxes again while simultaneously closing the huge deficit left by her predecessor.
This is what her supporters call the Whitman miracle, the fiscal accomplishment that has sent her stock soaring among New Jersey’s voters and transformed her on the national scene from a political unknown into one of the Republican Party’s newest stars.
But the key to the Whitman miracle lies neither in her political philosophy nor in her spending cuts, but rather in the fine print of her budget. Contained there is a series of arcane fiscal changes that some experts say amount to this: Christine Todd Whitman has balanced New Jersey’s books and paid for her tax cut by quietly diverting more than $1 billion from the state’s pension fund.
Whitman calls what she did a “reform” of the pension system that puts it on a more “sound actuarial footing.” Others are less charitable. The one thing that even the actuarial consultants hired by the Whitman administration agree on, however, is that the chief effect of the changes will be to shift billions of dollars in pension obligations onto New Jersey taxpayers 15 to 20 years from now.”
“At best, this represents a gamble that the state’s economy in the early part of the next century will be stronger than it is today and better able to shoulder pension responsibilities. At worst, according to fiscal experts, Whitman’s move represents politics at its most cynical.
In recent years financially strapped governments around the country — including Washington, D.C., and New York state — have raided their pension funds for cash, gambling that when the bills come due their local economies will be in a better position to pay them.
“The New Jersey pension system was highly rated in terms of its fiscal integrity,” said [Henry] Raimondo of the Eagleton Institute. “Now that’s compromised. She has effectively slowed down” the amount of “money going into the system, and in around 2010 the liability to New Jersey taxpayers is going to grow dramatically.”
Foser concluded his post by adding:
“Let’s review: A Republican governor of New Jersey reduced payments to the state pension system so she could cut taxes. Critics warned doing so would cause significant budget shortfalls in 2010. 2010 rolled around, and — surprise! — so did budget shortfalls. And now those shortfalls are used by New Jersey’s current Republican governor (along with many in the media) to justify cutting pensions (while again cutting taxes.)
Basically, conservatives have staged an end-run around having a public debate over cutting pensions in order to pay for tax cuts. Rather than making the argument that tax cuts are more important than pensions, they just went ahead and cut taxes, raiding the pension system in the process, then waited 15 years for predictable — and predicted — deficits, which they now point to as evidence that the pension system is unsustainably generous. And they’ve done it with the help of countless news organizations that fall for this shell game.”
You really need to read the full post, it’s fascinating how history has once again repeated itself.
Filed under 60 Minutes, Bill Clinton, Bill O'Reilly, budget deficit, Gov. Christie Whitman, Media Matters, New Jersey, pension deficit, Republican Governors, state pension system, tax cuts
This longtime resident of Middletown reads with interest the ranting,preposterous dribble from the republican political hacks of Middletown. This includes the current republican committee persons and all those among the ranks of the political patronage persons dependent on these so called representatives of the people.
History indicates a Republican administration. during Christie Whitman’s years in office,is responsible for fiscal irresponsibility in N.J. leading to much of our current problems. The last eight years of George W. Bush’s administration is responsible for fiscal irresponsibility in Washington,D.C. and the transgressions of 28 years of republican control in Middletown is responsible for fiscal irresponsibility in this township.
Expenditures for defending a committeeman from charges of misconduct (amount never disclosed as to the cost to the taxpayers),a convicted committeeman and former mayor,now serving a prison term for violating the public trust, are among the points that immediately come to the mind of this taxpayer and also the handling of the County ordered revaluation. Who knows what lurks in this township if a forensic audit were to be done by authorities able to supercede the efforts of the republicans to hide the facts from it’s residents.
We need only to look at the last political campaign in this township to see just how low the republicans were willing to stoop to retain control of the township committee. Ask yourself WHY??? It’s all about money,ladies and gentlemen…..and you pay the bills while patronage is alive and well in Middletown.
These politicians have no regard for the rule of law….all they care about is the rule of the republican party in this town. just scrutinize the appointments in this township and the township sewage authority. Take off your blinders,fellow citizens, and start really evaluating the facts of life in this township…..until you do,each and every taxpayer in this township subsidizes this madness !!!
Hypocrisy Is the name of the blame game played by the current majority.Everything wrong is someone else’s fault. Try cleaning up your own act before pointing fingers at ANYONE ELSE
All intelligent people know that there are morally and integrity challenged politicians in BOTH parties. No,they are not ALL or ONLY democrats. Many are republicans…and some of them dot the landscape here in Middletown,serving only their own agenda and not the people they were entrusted to represent or serve.
Barbara R.Thorpe (unaffiliated voter)