An article appeared in the Trenton Times on Friday which indicated that Governor Chris Christie created a task force to explore privatization of various state government functions. The governor stated that while he is not sure of everything he intends to privatize, one thing he is sure he wants to do is to make state workers pay to use the parking lots surrounding government office buildings in Trenton. To read this article, click on the following link: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/03/nj_employees_will_have_to_pay.html
He wants to hire a private company to operate the parking lots and collect the fees.
May I ask, what purpose will this serve?
First, the private company will not take the deal for free. It will want to take a cut of what is collected as a profit. Currently there has been much controversy about how state government workers are overpaid and receive excessive benefits. It is implied in many articles that have appeared in newspapers across the state that excessive compensation is one of the main causes of the state budget deficit and is an important factor in driving up taxes.
Even it this is true, how does it help matters to enter into a costly contract with a private company so it can siphon off tax dollars that could be used to provide useful services to the public. Instead, the money would be used to enrich a private company, which may be from out of state. Great! Let's send our tax dollars off to some company in California or Alaska or somewhere. That's really going to benefit us.
Additionally, since parking in the state's lots has always been free, charging for it now would amount to a pay cut for government workers. All right, you might be some right wing type that thinks government workers need a pay cut, but what that means is that your neighbors will now have less money to spend at the supermarket, the local restaurant, bowling alley, car dealer or other local businesses. Worker paychecks don't just disappear into some black hole, but rather are spent at private businesses across the region which helps generate jobs and economic activity that benefits everyone.
One other thing. Charging for parking will effectively force state workers to pay the state so they can get to work. Since most state workers don't live within walking distance, they would have no alternative but to either pay to park the car in the privatized lot or take public transportation to work. And who operates the public transportation here? None other than NJ Transit, a state agency.
So what you would be doing is creating a situation akin to a company town, where workers give their pay checks back to the factory owner who owns all the stores and houses in the town. The factory barons of old got their workers for the cost of food and housing. The governor wants to get a cut out of his workers either for bus or train fare or for parking fees.
Company towns for the most part don't exist anymore because we consider them unfair, just like we consider sharecropping, and peonage unfair.
Although making government workers shell out $50 or so per week to park at work may not rise to the same level of exploitation as that of sharecroppers by a southern planter, it is certainly the same type of thing.
After all, who out there has to pay to park in the factory or office park parking lot? My guess is practically no one.
Go ahead Gov! Make my day and shoot your foot off with this one.