If you are sick of the fecklessness and fiscal responsibility fakers in Washington, here is something to lift your spirits.
Read Mish’s review of NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s austerity speech and action plan outlined at a meeting of the Garden State’s League of Municipalities here. I’ve been longing for a public official with the courage and audacity to say “suck it up”, take responsibility, stand up to the unions and the permanent Nanny State, and make the tough choices that other politicians keep pretending they don’t have to make or keep kicking down the road.
Chris Christie is the real deal. Partial transcript thanks to Mish. Read the whole thing:
In the time we got here, of the approximately $29 billion budget there was only $14 billion left. Of the $14 billion, $8 billion could not be touched because of contracts with public worker unions, because of bond covenants, because of commitments we made accepting stimulus money. So we had to find a way to save $2.3 billion in a $6 billion pool of money.
When I went into the treasurer’s off in the first two weeks of my term, there was no happy meetings. They presented me with 378 possible freezes and lapses to be able to balance the budget. I accepted 375 of them.
There is a great deal of discussion about me doing that by executive action. Every day that went by was a day where money was going out the door such that the $6 billion pool was getting less and less. So something needed to be done.
People did not send me here to talk, the people sent me here to do. So we took the executive action we did to stop the bleeding.
As we move forward, and we evaluate what we need to do three weeks from now in our fiscal year 2011 budget address, you all need to understand the context from which we operate.
Our citizens are already the most overtaxed in America. US mayors hear it all the time. You know that the public appetite for ever increasing taxes has reached an end.
So when we freeze $475 million in school aid, I am hearing the reverberations from school boards saying now you are just going to force us to raise taxes.
Well there is a 4% cap in place as you all know, yet school boards continue to give out raises which exceed that cap, just on salary. Not to mention the fact that most of them get no contribution towards the spiraling increase in health care benefits.
Now, we are going to reduce spending at the state level. And we are going to continue to reduce it because we have no choice but to do so. Our obligation to you is twofold. One, is to let you know that. So I’m’ letting you know that.
Second to work with the legislature to give you the tools helping you to reduce spending at the municipal level. Now the pension and benefit reform package that was passed unanimously in the senate this week begins to give you some of those tools.
But it is only a beginning.
Do we need to change some of the rules of arbitration to level the playing field to allow municipalities and school boards to have a more level sense of collective bargaining?
I think the evidence of ever increasing raises being given to public sector workers as a result of the arbitration system tells us that we do. [Applause From Mayors]
But you have to stand up and give the support to the legislators in this building to get them to do that. I can guarantee you this, that more pension and benefit reforms which I will consider arbitration reform to be one of them, are things that when they come to my desk, they will be signed. [Applause From Mayors]
Because we can no longer continue on a path where we say we are going to reduce spending at the state level but we are not going to give you any tools to do that at the municipal level and the school board level.
By the same token I am tired of hearing school superintendents and school board members complain that there are no other options than raising property taxes. There are other options.
You know, Marlboro, after a two year negotiation, they give a five year contract giving 4.5% annual salary increases to the teachers, with no contribution, zero contribution to health care benefits.
But I am sure there are people in Marlboro who have lost their jobs, who have had their homes foreclosed on, and who cannot keep a roof over their family’s head there is something wrong.
You know, at some point there has to be parity. There has to be parity between what is happening in the real world, and what is happening in the public sector world. The money does not grow on trees outside this building or outside your municipal building. It comes from the hard working people of our communities who are suffering and are hurting right now.