Labor Negotiations and Legislation: Believe me there are no “done deals” here. There is much going on “behind the scenes”, which actually does include “negotiations” with labor unions. How it works out, I am not prepared to predict. The sandy ground shifts moment by moment in this saga. Let me assure you that Democratic legislators – and their leadership in both houses – are very engaged in these discussions. People are searching for the balance of protecting fairness for our public employees, protecting the viability of our pension system, and protecting the taxpayers. It’s no easy task, but it’s not yet done!
NJN: What a quandry! The Senate Budget Committee will also have a hearing on this contract. I have lots of questions. Are the taxpayers getting full value for this “hand-off”? Are New Jersey viewers getting any kind of guarantee of hard news broadcasts? Can we in the legislature get “new” things into this contract?
The Budget: I’m among those pushing for Dems to put in our own budget. Yes, we are an “equal” branch of government, and yes under our constitution Mr. Christie might get the final word! But we are elected to stand for “something”, and those priorities in which we believe should be set in the New Jersey budget. That’s what budget making is about. Take the “available” revenues and then tell the people what we think are the important ideas to fund! Sounds simple? But we know it’s not. Let’s hope we can win this one!
School Funding: Really part of the budget, but worthy of special mention. This Governor, again, took a good idea for a school funding formula which was approved by the courts, and turned it into another major issue for the legislature and those we represent. How do we keep the now “again called Abbots”, whole and still provide the funds to all those suburban schools which were also deemed problematic in “adequacy” formulas? Another chapter in the Christie (read Republican) playbook.
The Medicaid Waiver: This is the cruelest planned cut of the many out there. The Governor is looking for a $300 million savings by removing medicaid insurance coverage from any family earning more than $103 per week; freezing Family Care insurance and sending many thousands more New Jerseyans into the ranks of the uninsured and lacking in access to decent health care. We will continue to fight against this. Note to the feds: turn it down!
Think we have our work cut out for us in the next few weeks? We’ll get to it and somehow come to the best conclusion possible. Yes, “I belong to no organized political party – I’m a Democrat!” (Thank you Will Rogers.)
Keep your voices heard!