FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Texas and New Jersey: perfect together.
The New Ledger sat down with Governor Rick Perry a few weeks ago, and in the course of talking about Perry’s success (and his working principles of governing) came this exchange:
TNL: …do you think Republicans will win if they embrace that sort of approach in other states with all their challenges? And what does that look like?
Perry: Well, look at a state like Virginia, where Bob [McDonnell] just won by doing something very similar. He said we’re going to stop spending irresponsibly, we’re going to cut taxes, we’re going to encourage and enable those who risk their capital — job creators — and having what I would describe as a progressive energy policy, where he’s going to drill offshore in a way that’s environmentally sensitive and happens to be supported by his two Democratic senators.
That’s all pretty simple. These are not complex things — they’re challenging, but they’re straightforward. It’s not about understanding what you need to do as much as it is about having the courage to do it.
You look at a state like California. There are going to be some really tough decisions that have to be made to save that state. If Jerry Brown gets up and says “I’ve figured out a way to make this less painful,” well, here, smoke this — because at the end of the day, it’s going to be painful. Because that’s a state that has for too long made the easy decisions instead of the hard decisions.
If you are a state that has just said yes all the time to everything, there is a comeuppance, a day of reckoning for you. It’s right now.
It’s ‘right now’ in New Jersey, too.
New Jersey Transit, the third- busiest U.S. commuter-rail service, will cut 200 jobs, reduce executive salaries by 5 percent and trim contributions into employees’ 401k retirement plans by one-third to help close a $300 million budget deficit.
The firings of both unionized and non-union employees will total about 2 percent of the workforce, the biggest one-year reduction in agency history, Executive Director James Weinstein said today in a statement. Plans to raise fares and cut service will be disclosed next week, he said.
Christie, speaking today at the first meeting of his Council of Economic Advisers at Princeton University, said public employees received raises of 4 percent to 5 percent, free or low-cost health insurance and higher pensions as the private sector was contracting, cutting pay and salaries.
Christie has warned the state’s almost 600 school districts to plan for 15 percent budget cuts and said municipalities and social services may face similar reductions.
The governor has called for changing state public-union arbitration laws to give governments more leverage in negotiations.
…You know, at some point there has to be parity. There has to be parity between what is happening in the real world, and what is happening in the public sector world. The money does not grow on trees outside this building or outside your municipal building. It comes from the hard working people of our communities who are suffering and are hurting right now.
I heard someone in the legislature say two days ago that they wanted no fare hike in New Jersey Transit, no cuts in service, and no cuts in subsidy. And I was thinking to myself, man I should have made this guy treasurer. [Laughter] Because if you can pull that one off, you’re obviously magic.
This is the type of awful political rhetoric that people sent me to this city to stop.
I would love to be able to do that, but I can’t. I would love to tell you that municipal aid will stay level, but it’s not. And it’s not because we don’t have the money. So you need to prepare. You need to prepare for what’s coming down the line because we have no choice but to do these things.
The video of the full speech is here, and ladies and gentlemen: you will not find it dull. All in all, there are very real, very painful, and very responsible fiscal decisions being made in New Jersey right now. And how are the voters reacting to that?
…A Fairleigh Dickinson-PublicMind poll released today shows 52 percent of the respondents support the governor’s policies.
Republicans approve by a ratio of 10-to-one. Thirty-eight percent of Democrats approve and 33 percent disapprove. Independent voters approve of the governor 43 to 17 percent.
New Jersey isn’t purple, ladies and gentlemen. It’s blue. And yet, registered voters in NJ are receptive to this governor’s program. Keep that in mind.
PS: If Chris Christie pulls this off he won’t be able to run to President: New Jersey Republicans will guard the border with sticks in order to keep that from happening. Yes, indeed, much like they do in Louisiana.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.