Will the real Chris Christie stand up?
In the past for current retires, the new school term offered few challenges to our earned retirement benefits – lifetime health coverage and a secure salary structure based upon earned income via years of employment, a base number of 55, divided into an average of the three highest salaries. That final number might change after the Governor’s panel provides the results of its cost savings recommendations. A committee, I might add politically absolves the Governor of any painful decision it might propose.
This Governor who has broken every promise made to current members is now focused upon retirees. I was a teacher for twenty-eight years and your president for 12. I learned to deal with political and local board politics when negotiating contract solutions and terms and conditions of employment issues. Compromise was a standard practice and at times pressure by members was necessary to ensure fairness. But at all times honesty was the rule. I always felt that teachers and support staff worked better and with more confidence if respect guided the final result and the success of our school system was proof testimony to that fact. As a side note, New Jersey’s school system is rated number one in the nation.
Chris Christie is not to be trusted. He lies. Expedience is his credo. He lies and points fingers at public employees as being the source of the state’s financial dilemma, and not the flaws in his governorship and fiscal mismanagement. New Jersey’s bond rating has fallen five times. That’s Wall Street rendering its verdict on Christie’s brand of leadership. He lied to public employees when he first sought election. His now infamous letter promising not to touch our benefits was a lie. “It’s a sacred trust. Nothing will change.” Now his presidential mantra has become “no pain, no gain.” He now claims that, “We have made a promise we cannot keep.” He ended cost-of-living increases; he placed a salary cap of two percent; he hoodwinked current employees, raising their cost for medical benefits and retirement; he helped craft a new and harsh tenure plan; he raised the number of years to acquire tenure; he raised the age for retirement; and don’t be surprised if that number goes even higher, complete with a three percent reduction in benefits per year if one retires prior to the prescribed age of sixty-five. In exchange for these radical changes he promised to put the legally required funds into the pension system. True to his lack of character, he drastically cut that number. So what’s next in his bag of nonsense?
California and Illinois have already been legally successful in establishing guidelines to cut soaring retiree benefits by ending the guarantee of free lifetime healthcare coverage for teachers with twenty-five years of service. “Sixty-five percent of states modified their retiree health insurance in 2011, mostly by increasing premiums, co-payments or deductibles.” Chicago’s mayor and Detroit’s bankruptcy manager have announced a plan to end their retiree health coverage and push their pensioners into the healthcare exchanges (which because of Christie we don’t have) set up under the Affordable Care Act. “No state, however, has cut accrued pension benefits already earned by retirees, which are regarded as a contractual property right. Health benefits are easier to cut.”
We can only wait – while our governor tours Mexico and the country promoting how a Republican governor and potential presidential candidate has been able to use bi-partisan support for his string of “broken promises.”
John B. Gundry
2 Ethel Road, Suite 203A, Edison, NJ 08817
For more information regarding retirement, click on the image below.
- Retirees Letter 2012
- Retirees September 2013
- Retirees November 2013
- Retirees June 2014
- Retirees September 2014