Chris Christie: Budget Myths

Chris Christie better known as Fat BastardImage by Gilded: via Flickr
Living in a YouTube Generation, it is easy to be caught up in all of the hype when videos "go viral".  Chris Christie, or possibly one of his staff, realized early on the power of this medium - and possibly no one has benefitted more from these viral videos. I admit that I was initially pretty excited about a politician who stood up to unions, was somewhat "un-PC", and seemed to be pretty staunchly conservative.  However, several things he said and did started my questioning his conservative bonafides.  To wit - endorsing Mike Castle, one of the most liberal Republicans in the Senate, over Christine O'Donnell in the Delaware primary, and his rather liberal views on Cap and Trade and Global Warming.
All is not always what it seems at first glance.
Posted by Brian

Myth #2: Gov. Christie took on the public employee labor unions and his reforms have reduced the size of state government.

Here are the facts: For all his YouTube bluster and bravado, Gov. Christie took on local labor unions - not the state labor unions. Except for those school districts which the state controls (Newark, Paterson, Camden, Asbury Park, etc.), teacher contracts are negotiated at the local level and the Governor has no control over their salaries or benefits. But then, why is it desirable for Trenton to equalize funding or for that matter to have any say in funding decisions? Why aren’t those decisions decentralized and localized?

While it is true that in March Gov. Christie signed several health and pension benefits reform bills into law (including legislation that bans part-time employees from enrolling in the state pension system) it is also true that not one department has been shut down nor a single state workers’ position cut from the payroll. The Governor claimed that “my hands are tied by Corzine.”

His hands certainly weren’t tied when it came to the salaries for his staff:

  • Treasury figures show 34 people making $100,000 or more in Christie’s office, compared with 24 for Corzine in April 2009.
  • Corzine had a payroll of $8.43 million for 118 people…Christie has 117 employees, including himself, with a payroll of $8.86 million per year.

Nor were his hands tied when it came to the budget for various state programs. As we saw in Part 1, spending for numerous programs wasn’t cut or even frozen, but INCREASED.

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