If you are a laid off teacher or police officer, or are just disgusted with the way Steven Sweeney has been giving public employees and the general public the shaft, here is your chance! Start looking into running for state senator from District 3 in the Democratic primary coming up next June.
The problems with Mr. Sweeney are numerous. He has managed to use his connections in government to get the state to squander taxpayer money by building a multi-million park for the horsey set in Gloucester County and. by getting the state to tear down a perfectly good modern prison in Camden to make way for some waterfront redevelopment project that just may or may not happen. Right now, through his position in the Delaware River Port Authority, he is working on throwing away millions more on some silly rail line to link the Rand Terminal in the City of Camden with Glassboro. (Presumably so Camden Residents can get advanced degrees in Pharmaceutical Technology and build better drug labs.). All at the same time that he bends over backwards to help our Republican Governor spread the myth that the state is going broke because of overpaid public employees.
The 2% cap does not restrict capital spending projects. These are normally paid for from the proceeds of bonds. Bonding falls outside of the cap, because the money is coming from borrowing, not taxes. Also repayment of the bonds falls outside of the cap, conveniently excluded as "debt service".
About a week ago Sweeney sponsored another one of Governor Christie's "gift wrapped" bills in the Senate to allow the state, county, municipalities, school districts and other public entities to furlough workers at any time without negotiating with the union. Sweeney and the governor both say it is necessary to stay within the 2% cap. Maybe so, because there should have been some kind of exemption for inflation and municipal necessity.
Suppose we get a period of high inflation like we had in the late 1970s under Jimmy Carter. You may laugh, but they were laughing then at the prospects of a stock market crash happening again too. Well then everybody will be locked into the 2% increase thing. Wages will begin to fall behind what workers can get on the outside. Then at the best, nobody will want to be teachers and cops. At the worst, you will have a general strike among public employees from one end of the state to the other. The cities will then burn without any police on the streets to stop anarchy.
So, if you always thought you wanted to be a politician, here's your chance. I'm sure the NJEA, PBA and the CWA would only be willing to back your campaign. Ans so would be a lot of ordinary citizens dissatisfied with a hypocrite like Sweeney who is fattening his pockets and looting the state treasury while at the same time portraying himself as a guardian of public funds.