“In exchange for small-but-overdue salary increases for legislative and judicial staff,  Christie is demanding a king’s ransom for himself and his inner circle. Under the terms of a plan he’s pushing legislators to accept,  members of his cabinet would be in line for $34,000 annual raises. Those political appointees could see their salaries skyrocket to $175,000,  a 24 percent increase from their current maximum of $141,000 per year.

It’s time for some perspective because this is the same governor who has repeatedly and viciously attacked public employees over their salaries and benefits. This is the same governor who opposes gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour to help average New Jersey residents and working families improve their lives.

Somehow,  he thinks that $15 per hour is too much for a single working mother struggling to feed and shelter her family. At the current minimum wage of $8.38 per hour,  she’d make just over $17,000 per year if she never took a single day off. To Christie,  that’s enough for her. But for his cabinet that already makes eight times that much? He thinks they need raises of $34,000 per year.

This is a governor whose hypocrisy on salaries seems to have no limits. Somehow,  he thinks that public employees,  who,  on average,  earn about 1/15th of what his family takes in each year,  should pay more and more for their earned health benefits.

This is also the same governor who depleted our Transportation Trust Fund,  failed to fund our public pension fund,  diverted money from our clean energy fund and made significant cuts to state aid for municipalities.

This is also the same governor who has scoffed at our suggestions that we should fight harder to prevent wage theft in our state. But for himself? He believes he deserves the right to negotiate a book deal to supplement his million-dollar lifestyle.

His contempt for New Jersey voters,  his constituents,  would be comical for its absurdity,  if it didn’t put lives and livelihoods at stake. As it is,  this push from the governor is just the tip of a big iceberg. A visible example of a deeply rooted and sinister problem: the role of powerful,  greedy,  moneyed interests in New Jersey politics and the corruption,  inefficiency and economic devastation it brings with it.

New Jersey voters are already fed up with Christie’s double standards and failure to make New Jersey’s economy work for everyone,  not just the favored few at the very top. His 18 percent approval rating shows how ready they are for his reign to end.

New Jersey’s legislators shouldn’t give him a cushy deal on his way out the door. They should not reward his stubbornness and greed by eliminating ethics protections to benefit him. Instead,  they should demand that he actually prove that being governor of New Jersey is his top priority. They should demand that he shows up to work to earn his $175,000 taxpayer-funded salary.

If selling a book is more important to him than being governor,  he has the option to resign. If a year is too long to wait to cash in on his political career,  he can walk away today. But if he wants to remain in office,  he should not get special treatment that allows him to profit off of that decision.

And he shouldn’t be allowed to reward his friends with windfall raises after years of demonizing public employees and working to drive them backward financially.

Christie is an employee of New Jersey’s taxpayers. He needs to show up,  do his job and live under the laws that are designed to make sure he doesn’t get to put his own financial interests ahead of the interests of New Jersey.

 

Full opinion-editorial by Dan Fatton, WEC’s executive director & Louis Di Paolo of New Jersey Working Families Alliance, in The Star Ledger, December 19, 2016.

Full Op-Ed
Public Need Over Corporate Greed