Earlier today, NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer joined representatives from Better Choices for New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective and other advocacy groups to shed light on the widespread impact of the state’s persistent financial mismanagement.
Leaders from the various organizations called on legislators to find better ways to address the budget issues that affect all taxpayers. For over seven years, Governor Christie has pursued budget policies and priorities that have negatively affected middle and low income families. After outlining such harmful effects, the group called on legislators to stand up to Gov. Christie.
With just six weeks left in this year’s budget, a significant shortfall is expected. New Jersey recently endured its 11th credit downgrade under Gov. Christie, more than any other state in the same timeframe. While Gov. Christie remains at the helm and there is little hope for immediate significant change, the advocates gathered today sent a unified message to legislators: you must do better for New Jersey’s families.
Steinhauer detailed the burden that budget mismanagement has placed on New Jersey’s schools and students:
“Good morning and thank you for inviting me.
The New Jersey Education Association is proud to represent over 200,000 active, pre-service, and retired school public school educators and support professionals.
Our public schools consistently rank among the best in the country, but it’s getting more difficult to stay there. For the eighth year, this governor is shortchanging our schools by a billion dollars a year.
One of the main reasons people chose to live in New Jersey is the quality of our schools. Our great public schools are the centerpieces of our neighborhoods and communities. Yet our governor seems to believe tax cuts for the wealthy are more important than our public schools. And it’s not just our Pre-K through 12 schools that are being harmed; the governor has neglected our community colleges, as well. Our community colleges play a key role in creating an educated, highly skilled workforce.
An investment in public education is an investment in our future. It’s an investment in the prosperity of our state…our ability to attract residents and businesses.
Cutting estate taxes and refusing to consider a millionaires’ tax at the expense of our children, public schools, and community colleges demonstrates this administration’s misplaced priorities.
In addition, our members have faced deep cuts in take-home pay under this administration due to Chapter 78. But despite their own pay loss, they keep digging deeper and deeper into their own pockets for basic classroom supplies because they don’t want their students to be deprived.
When the governor and Legislature passed Chapter 78 in 2011, they promised to fund the pension. Instead, they focused their priorities on providing tax breaks for those who don’t need them at the expense of middle class workers and retirees.
This has to stop. The quality of life in our state is at risk. Our state is becoming a place of “haves” and “have nots.”
Though our neighboring state likes to take credit, New Jersey is the real home of the Statue of Liberty – that symbol of this “land of opportunity.” What opportunities will New Jersey be able to offer our children if we stay on this current path?
We need to stand together and demand better! Thank you!
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