Republicans and a handful of “Christie Democrats” joined forces in New Jersey’s legislature on Thursday to punch through a bill that will require public workers to pay way more for their health insurance and pensions, curb unions’ collective bargaining rights and rob them of other crucial benefits.
Gov. Chris Christie, a hard-nosed darling of the anti-union, hyper-pro-business right, had the audacity to claim the cuts will serve the interests of the New Jersey public, saying: “We are putting the people first and daring to touch the third rail of politics in order to bring reform to an unsustainable system.” He is expected to sign the measure into law soon. —ARK
The New York Times:
New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday approved a broad rollback of benefits for 750,000 government workers and retirees, the deepest cut in state and local costs in memory, in a major victory for Gov. Chris Christie and a once-unthinkable setback for the state’s powerful public employee unions.
The Assembly passed the bill 46 to 32, as Republicans and a few Democrats defied raucous protests by thousands of people whose chants, vowing electoral revenge, shook the State House. Leaders in the State Senate said their chamber, which had already passed a slightly different version of the bill, would approve the Assembly version on Monday. Mr. Christie, a Republican, was expected to sign the measure into law quickly.
... The legislation will sharply increase what state and local workers must contribute for their health insurance and pensions, suspend cost-of-living increases to retirees’ pension checks, raise retirement ages and curb the unions’ contract bargaining rights. It will save local and state governments $132 billion over the next 30 years, by the administration’s estimate, and give the troubled benefit systems a sounder financial footing, mostly by shifting costs onto workers.