Monday, July 03, 2006

NJ Shutdown, Day 2

I have finally reached the point in my life where I like my job and I actually look forward to going to work. This has been my dream for many years, and I am thankful for the work I do, the people I serve, my coworkers and my boss. Now I am being told that I may not report to work. Oh, the irony. Last year at this time I would have welcomed leave in any form, even unpaid.

The State of NJ continues with a shutdown of services today because our elected representatives at the state level have failed miserably to approve a balanced budget. Each seems more concerned with his own political future (how will this affect my reelection bid?) than they are about the welfare of The Great State of New Jersey. To me, this is strong evidence of a need for term limits. I'm ready to say one term and you're out, so that politicians may base decisions on the real issues, not their personal aspirations. Elections could be staggered throughout the state so that there would always be experienced representatives in office to pass on knowledge.

In my opinion, years of experience equals years of entrenchment in a corrupt political system, and NJ is renowned for political corruption. Frankly, state government isn't rocket science, and experience in New Jersey appears to be a detriment rather than an asset. The hue and cry for upcoming elections should be get rid of incumbents.

Both incomes in our household are affected by this snafu, since we are both state employees. Today is a forced, unpaid day off, and it looks like tomorrow will not be a paid holiday. From what I've read at about the situation, it does not seem likely that we will work on Wednesday, either. Our household is prepared for a rainy day, so we'll get through this, if it doesn't last too long. I know state employee households with only one income, and they will be affected even more deeply by this mess.

Some NJ legislators want to cut state worker benefits and salaries by 15%. Think about that: 15% less pay, plus an additional 15% contribution to our benefits. While this is probably the extreme version of what will actually be brought to the table during contract negotiations next year, it highlights the need for state workers to be proactive with their personal finances. That's hard to do when the state forces unpaid leave on us, making us dip into our savings and assets.

According to the CNN article, the state Assembly didn't even bother to convene today, thought the Senate did. Here is a quote from the article:

"I would welcome the Assembly actually coming in, staying in Trenton, working on the budget, hour after hour, 24 hours a day until we come up with a budget," Corzine said Monday morning on CNN. "I can't veto a budget, I can't sign a budget until it's actually presented by the Legislature."

No budget bills had moved through legislative committees yet, and any legislation those panels approve must wait a full calendar day before receiving final votes in the Assembly and Senate. If no bills move forward Monday, the Legislature couldn't adopt a budget before Wednesday morning.

Sounds to me like the assembly members want this problem to reach critical mass. Wonder if they expect to be paid for their service? Let's fire the lot of them, first chance we get.

I just read an executive order by Governor Corzine posted on the State of NJ website. He has ordered both houses of the legislature into sessions beginning 7/4/06 at 9:00 am and for each day until a budget is passed. Here's the text:

Governor Signs Executive OrderCalling For A Special Legislative Session

TRENTON - Governor Jon S. Corzine today signed an Executive Order calling for Special Sessions of both Houses of the Legislature beginning on Tuesday, July 4, 2006, at 9:00 a.m. and continuing for each day thereafter until a General Appropriations Law for Fiscal Year 2007 is enacted. The Governor faxed a letter to each Senator and Assembly Member containing the following text:

Pursuant to my authority under the New Jersey Constitution, Article V, Section I, Paragraph 12 and Article IV, Section I, Paragraph 4, I am hereby convening Special Sessions of both Houses of the Legislature for Tuesday, July 4, 2006 at 9:00 a.m., and for each day thereafter, until such time as this call shall be revoked, in order to pass a balanced General Appropriations Law for Fiscal Year 2007 and to consider legislation that is related to the State budget. I have determined that the public interest requires these Sessions in order to expedite the enactment of a General Appropriations Law for Fiscal Year 2007 and thereby end the current state of emergency caused by the failure to enact such a law by July 1, 2006.


Virginia Gal said...

Man oh man, I listened to the story about this on NPR - I heard it could affect casinos and Atlantic City come Wednesday. I'm sure when that happens this will all be resolved.
Yes term limits, good thing!

Merci said...

Yes, the casinos could be affected, since the regulators from the Casino Control Commission are state employees. You're right, that's the thing that will motivate them to fix the problem. The state will lose $2 million per day in revenue if the casinos close.

Right now, I suppose they're saving $$, since they don't have to pay more than half of the state workforce. On Wednesday, they will start losing $$. Some state workers think this was a plan to save money: lock us out and don't pay us for a few days.

PaxRomano said...


Follow this link:

In it the Gov says we would get "make up pay".

What's that? Enough to pay for lipstick?

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