Christie Fights Government Union Excesses

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is taking on the government unions head on.  George Will describes the financial situation in New Jersey as “the nation’s worst.”  Christie has issued executive orders that have saved $2.2 billion in state spending but he won’t be able to get things under control unless he reforms the gold-plated benefits of the government employee unions’ and that is what he is doing.  Wonder if the governors of other states — including Arnold Schwarzenegger — are paying any attention.

So he closed the $2.2 billion gap by accepting 375 of 378 suggested spending freezes and cuts. In two weeks. By executive actions. In eight weeks he cut $13 billion — $232 million a day, $9 million an hour. Now comes the hard part.

Government employees’ health benefits are, he says, “41 percent more expensive” than those of the average Fortune 500 company. Without changes in current law, “spending will have increased 322 percent in 20 years — over 16 percent a year.” There is, he says, a connection between the state’s being No. 1 in total tax burden and being No. 1 in the proportion of college students who, after graduating, leave the state.

Partly to pay for teachers’ benefits — most contribute nothing to pay for their health insurance — property taxes have increased 70 percent in 10 years, to an average annual cost to homeowners of $7,281. Christie proposes a 2.5 percent cap on annual increases.