The New Jersey Senate yesterday crossed the Garden State’s public employee unions to pass a bill requiring significantly higher contributions for health benefits and pensions from more than 500,000 government workers. In addition, the bill suspends unions’ ability to bargain over health care.
The bill, which passed 24-15, must still win over the Assembly committee, then pass to the lower house and then make its way to the Governor’s desk. Gov. Christie is the driving force behind the legislation. The full Assembly is expected to hear the bill on Thursday. Tea Partiers, take note.
An amendment to remove a provision which would have limited public workers’ access to out-of-state medical care unless similar care wasn’t available in state was approved earlier by a similar margin.
“This is a watershed moment for New Jersey, proving that the stakes are too high and the consequences all too real to stand by and do nothing," he said in a written statement.
“As a result of Democrats and Republicans coming together to confront the tough issues, we are providing a sustainable future for our pension and health benefit system, saving New Jersey taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and securing a fiscally responsible future for our state.”
According to Fox News, “the legislation is intended to shore up badly underfunded retirement systems. A new tiered system would require teachers, police and firefighters and other public workers to pay a portion of their health insurance premiums based on income. Pension contributions would also rise by 1 percent immediately, and by an additional percent or more after a seven-year phase-in.
“Public-sector unions are vehemently opposed, in part because the measure limits collective bargaining over health care. Hundreds turned out at the Capitol on Monday for another day of protests that started with a march across the Delaware River into Trenton.
“The bill was moving through the Legislature as a result of a deal struck among Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver -- both Democrats -- the governor and GOP legislative leaders. Bill Dressel, the head of New Jersey's League of Municipalities, told lawmakers the state's unfunded pension liability is “a ticking time bomb” that they now have a chance to defuse.
“Sweeney said the changes ‘will ensure that we are able to live up to our goals of keeping more of our health care dollars in New Jersey while not eliminating the choices that are so important to employees and their families.’ Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono said the health care provision, even after being amended, is still too restrictive.
“I don't think there is any physician that would knowingly sign this certification,” she said. “It doesn't need to be watered down. It doesn't need to be amended. It needs to be stricken."
More than 3,000 public workers showed up at the statehouse Thursday to protest when the bill was up for a vote in a Senate committee. On Monday, hundreds returned. Protesters in Revolutionary War costumes gathered in Morrisville, Pa., and marched across the Delaware River in what union officials called ‘the second Battle of Trenton.’ Union members also set up more than 125 tents on a lawn behind the statehouse, along with a mock graveyard for collective bargaining rights. Public employee unions want any changes in their benefits made at the bargaining table, not through legislation.
“This is the defining moment for the labor movement in our generation," New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech wrote in an email to enlist support for the rally, the latest and most ambitious of several recent Capitol protests. A provision to allow collective bargaining over health care to resume after four years did little to quell union objections.
The Liberals have apparently decided that our Tea Party costumes weren’t so “silly” after all. They think what worked for us can work for them. They’ve been depending on our sketchy history of the American Revolution – they claim if we really knew the facts about the Revolution, that we’d be embarrassed. Well some of us do remember our history, and continually refresh our memories.
Problems began with the British taxes. Their main goal was to raise money to pay for the French & Indian Wars, which had gone on for at least 100 years. But they also wanted to let the Colonials, or Yankees, know who was the boss. At the time, the Colonials were not necessarily looking for severance and independence from Britain but justice.
The Colonies were taxed without representation, representation being difficult to achieve over a wide ocean sailing in wooden boats. The colonists had had the right to vote on their own taxes through the House of Burgesses, with the consent of the monarch. Parliament, fearing a growing population that would eventually overwhelm, took the right to represent themselves away from them.
This came about after increasing unrest over taxes and unfair trade practices. Britain was basically using America as her garden and farm. The colonies could produce raw goods, but they could not manufacture them. They had to sell the raw goods to English manufacturers, and buy the goods back at exorbitant costs, putting many colonists, even George Washington, who was wealthy, into debt. The additional taxes, which most colonists had means to pay, were the last straw. The Colonists began boycotting British goods, and smuggling in what they needed.
So much for Progressive claims of Colonial lawlessness.
Or our ignorance of Colonial history.
The British did not keep their word to veterans of the French & Indian Wars, if they, in fact, gave any word at all, concerning pensions. Many of the veterans were left destitute, and according to The Real George Washington, our first president, then a colonel, was very generous in his charity towards these veterans whom he had led. Anyone who came to his door was to be given the food or clothing for which they asked.
Our overpaid union government workers, who make more money than we do, are hardly the pitiful, ragged transients of Washington’s Day. They have more than the necessary means to keep themselves in their retirement without any pension at all, much less the extravagant pensions they are receiving or will receive.
In Boston, the British garrisoned many troops to keep the peace among the rioting Bostonians, the Sons of Liberty whom our present-day Progressives so revile, and to collect the taxes, leaving the frontier unguarded. The Bostonians certainly harassed the British troops and were at fault in the Boston massacre. Washington, Franklin, and John Adams all disapproved of the Boston Tea Party, feeling that Boston should have repaid the defaulting East India Company for the tea. East India was nearly bankrupt, so Britain gave them the exclusive monopoly on the American trade. Tea Partying Americans are too peaceful and law-abiding to wreak havoc on General Motors cars, but our government bail-out of General Motors and other faltering companies bears a striking resemblance to the East India Company.
We don’t have an army of soldiers in the United States. But we do have a considerable army of union members who are just as violent, unprincipled, and ruthlessly destructive. There are not pictures yet of these “Revolutionary War” companies. Doubtless, these union members are wearing the tricorn hats and blue and duff of the Colonial rebels.
At heart, however, they’re “lobster-backs” and Americans need to hold the standard of “Don’t Tread on Me” against their treacherous attack on the state capitol in Trenton. Anyone who can get to Trenton on Thursday needs to remind them of who the real “patriots” are.