Hey Trenton: Stop making us pay for corporate malfeasance!

Melissa Tomlinson is an educator in New Jersey, the exec director of Badass Teachers Association, and a board member of South Jersey Women for Progressive Change. Promoted by Rosi.

In a state that seems to be most concerned about upholding corporate interests for their own profit, one has to wonder when the average public citizen will be viewed as the people that really matter.

We have a few interesting stories that are continuously bubbling up in our news. Much to the dismay of certain corporations, the news about the recent audit of the EDA and the potential loss of $11 billion from the state coffers due to prior lack of accountability indicates that the time for corporate profit through lies and mistruths may be coming to an end.

Another area of missing accountability for corporate and private profit has also recently been made apparent by NorthJersey.com’s recent summary of takeaways from their investigation into charter schools in New Jersey. Revelations about millions of public dollars that are used by privately owned charter schools through a lack of oversight. Flaws in the current legislation have allowed some investors to gain millions in profits from charter school projects. Manipulation of bonds that led to the collection of federal interest payments and a general lack of oversight in these property leases and purchases have drained millions out of the state budget.

Juxtaposed to all of this is the continuous placement of stories by Senator Sweeney’s friends about the dire state of New Jersey’s economy, placing most of the blame on an underfunded pension system and flaws in school funding. While many within this circle of people will readily admit that the state was remiss in its responsibilities of making outlined pension payments when necessary, few will point to those that need to bear the burden of correcting these wrongs.

Public workers stepped up in the past, through Chapter 78 legislation to take on a percentage of premium sharing for healthcare costs. These same workers also agreed to carry an increased percentage of pension payment responsibility. Within the same time frame, public school budgets were cut and flatlined, all in the name of doing what is right for the economy of New Jersey. These two items have placed undue burdens on the public sector of our state and our public schools have had a direct negative impact.

With the exposure of how private interests have been allowed to drain money from the state through intentional manipulation of power, the call coming forward from the people of New Jersey needs to be a demand for the re-establishment of trust for our legislative representatives. The only way to regain that trust is for those accountable for our budgetary shortfalls to be held fully responsible. If this was a case of one person stealing money from another, the resulting remedies would include full repayment, plus fees and interest. The people of New Jersey should not settle for anything less. Recover monies given to corporations without returns, bring public school funding back to our public school system and fill the looming budget gaps that deeply affect and harm our public workers and our public school students.

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