It is not often that I am impressed with a politician. On both sides of the aisle at all levels of government, they strive to convince us that we can indeed get something for nothing if we just give them all the power. So New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s recent budget speech filled me with warm-fuzzies.
It has lots of shrink government, anti-tax rhetoric to make me happy. And one has to love a politician willing to call out the public empoyees unions.
[M]ake no mistake about it, pensions and benefits are the major driver of our spending increases at all levels of government—state, county, municipal and school board. Also, don’t believe our citizens don’t know it and demand, finally, from their government real action and meaningful reform. The special interests have already begun to scream their favorite word, which, coincidentally, is my nine year old son’s favorite word when we are making him do something he knows is right but does not want to do—“unfair.”
Let’s tell our citizens the truth—today—right now—about what failing to do strong reforms costs them.
One state retiree, 49 years old, paid, over the course of his entire career, a total of $124,000 towards his retirement pension and health benefits. What will we pay him? $3.3 million in pension payments over his life and nearly $500,000 for health care benefits — a total of $3.8m on a $120,000 investment. Is that fair?
A retired teacher paid $62,000 towards her pension and nothing, yes nothing, for full family medical, dental and vision coverage over her entire career. What will we pay her? $1.4 million in pension benefits and another $215,000 in health care benefit premiums over her lifetime. Is it “fair” for all of us and our children to have to pay for this excess?
But Christie impressed me most with the specific details and lack of double-speak. He didn’t point to nebluous efficiency savings that will somehow emerge from who knows where, and he didn’t make vague promises about reducing the budget that actually mean not growing the budget by quite as much. Instead, he set out a specific plan for actual spending cuts.
Read the whole thing, it’s worth a few minutes of your time. I hope he actually gets it done.