The big news in this fall’s legislative elections is that the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is spending millions to unseat Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney. Last year, Sweeney stood up to the union by blocking an NJEA-backed constitutional amendment on pension funding that would have broken the state budget. Because teachers shouldn’t be allowed to ever retire after ensuring our society moves forward with an educated populace? Now the NJEA wants revenge and is backing Sweeney’s Republican challenger Fran Greiner.
By targeting Sweeney, the NJEA is sending a message to politicians across the state: ” If you mess with the NJEA, we can and will spend millions to defeat you.” Nah, the message is: If you’re an asshole, we’ll try and elect someone who’s not one.
That threat may be bad for lawmakers, but it’s worse for taxpayers
With a $230 billion deficit in the state’s pension and health benefits funds staring the legislature in the face, comprehensive pension and benefits reform must be enacted soon acting like this is the only or required solution belies revenue enhancement measures or cutting spending in other areas….like $7BILLION dollar incentive packages to recruit Amazon which excels at one thing: cash burn or the state faces massive tax increases, drastic spending cut, or ultimately — insolvency. Instead of attracting companies like Amazon, the state will be losing employers. Bullshit, straight up bullshit.
Legislators know the financial reality the state faces, but few are willing to act on reform because they fear the
wrath appropriate political pressure of the NJEA that is now being visited upon Sweeney. The NJEA is the major roadblock proof? to pension reform and has been for decades usually writers have to back up their assertions with evidence – putting its vast resources to work to increase taxes and pensions whenever and wherever it can – and targeting fiscally responsible politicians. Politicians who give away state resources to companies that pay dirt low wages are fiscally responsible? to whom? Oh…themselves…I get it now…
Where does the union that represents public school teachers get millions of dollars to spend on politics? Ironically, from the taxpayers. Specious, false claim.
Over decades, the NJEA – with the help of the very lawmakers it intimidates — has rigged the political system to funnel hundreds of millions of property tax dollars directly into its coffers, making it the most powerful political force in the state. Few taxpayers are aware that their property taxes are funding a powerful special interest that works diligently to raise taxes. Wages are earnings and no longer taxpayer dollars. When a worker earns pay, it’s theirs. How they spend it is THEIR choice. Period.
Decades ago the NJEA successfully lobbied the legislature to pass two key laws that ensured its domination of state politics. The first is “agency fees,” which effectively forces teachers to join the NJEA. The NJEA forces people to be teachers too, right? Under the law, if a teacher joins the union, she must pay full membership dues; but if a teacher chooses not to join the union, she still must pay up to 85 percent of dues in “agency fees.” Unsurprisingly, over 99 percent of teachers are union members.
The second is the automatic withholding of union dues from teachers’ paychecks by local school districts negotiated by federally protected collective bargaining , which facilitates the NJEA’s dues collection on the taxpayers’ dime. The agency fees and dues withholding constitutes an enormous taxpayer subsidy to the NJEA. You can repeat a lie a million times, it doesn’t become the truth just because you do so. Typically, private sector organizations <— see, private, not public…false equivalence must spend significant amounts of their budgets and time to recruit members and collect their dues. Not the NJEA: it is guaranteed nearly 100 percent membership and 100 percent of its dues money — saving the union millions annually in operating expenses. Um, public school are public sector, so your argument is automatically invalid
This rigged system proof of rigged…nah, just another underinformed opinion has served the NJEA well. The NJEA siphoned off $121 million in property-tax-funded dues in 2016 and a total of $1.85 billion since 1994. Most of that money is spent on politics.
The NJEA is by far the biggest reported political spender in the state. My research indicates that from 1995-2015, the NJEA spent $787 million taxpayer dollars on political action. Repeated lie, again, designed to be bought by folks with addled minds and questionable political angles From 2013-15, the NJEA spent an astounding $56 million per year influencing politics. No wonder 90 percent of NJEA-endorsed candidates routinely win. Sounds like garden variety envy here. Seriously, a political agency influences elections and is successful at their jobs so you lie to skewer their reputation by suggesting their methods of revenue generation by suggesting it’s illicit? Weak.
Back to Sen. Sweeney. The NJEA’s attack on Sweeney is nothing new. In 1979, Democratic Assembly Education Committee chairman Daniel Newman crossed the NJEA by fighting against increased education spending. The NJEA targeted Newman and defeated his re-election bid. The NJEA’s message of intimidation did not go unnoticed, as Newman observed: “Legislators are scared of the teachers’ groups as a result of my experience.” Only the cowards and those working against the public trust one might also say….
Foreshadowing the NJEA’s endorsement of Sweeney’s Republican rival, the NJEA in 1991 took its revenge against Gov. James Florio and the Democratic legislature which passed laws that bucked the NJEA’s agenda. In response, The NJEA endorsed 46 legislative Republican candidates and three Democrats and helped flip the legislature from a Democrat majority to a Republican super-majority. Gov. Florio recalled that one of the “extraordinarily dangerous” lessons he learned from his experience was: “Don’t mess with the teachers.”
In 2005, Acting Gov. Richard Codey created a Benefits Review Task Force to look into public employee pensions and benefits and to recommend changes to control costs . The NJEA launched massive protests and blocked the legislative proposals. The following year the NJEA mobilized thousands of its members to thwart the recommendations of the Special Session of the legislature to deal with pension issues. Do you even understand what a union is?
When Gov. Christie tried to implement pension reform, the NJEA again reared up and thwarted the governor’s attempts and vilified Christie ever since.
Today Sweeney is the politician with the target on his back, but the message to New Jersey politicians is the same: “If you don’t do what we want you to do, we will destroy you.” Nope, it’s if you don’t do right by your constituents you will be primaried or opposed in a general. It’s called political free speech.
Over the years, the NJEA – through exploitation of this rigged system YAWN… – has taken a tremendous toll on state taxpayers. With hundreds of millions of tax dollars at its disposal, the NJEA has used its enormous political clout to increase state spending and debt, raise taxes and support policies that benefit its own interests at a big cost to taxpayers. <–a whole paragraph of lies
Predictably, New Jersey now has the highest taxes in the country, the worst funded public pension system, the worst business climate evidence? and is losing more of its citizens than almost any other state.
Why does New Jersey put up with this? Why do we allow a special interest like the NJEA to siphon off tax dollars and dominate the political system? because they’re not It’s time to cut off the union’s tax dollars can’t cut off what isn’t there and end the taxpayer subsidies by terminating the agency fees and forcing the union to use its resources to recruit members and collect its own dues. <—LIEFEST
As long as the NJEA is allowed to use taxpayer money to intimidate and defeat legislators there will be no meaningful pension reform in New Jersey. And with no pension reform the state faces a dismal future.
The fallout from the Sweeney race can go one of two ways; either lawmakers will be cowed into caving into the unions wishes, or legislators will exact revenge and cut off the flow of taxpayer money to the NJEA. Let’s see who steps up for the taxpayers and who sides with the union. One of the worst, uninformed articles I’ve seen on unions. I cannot believe the author is an Ivy League product…though his AEI, think tank, conservative views are proudly on display. Time to hit the books, Mr. Lilley, I know you can do better than this…
Mike Lilley is graduate of Princeton University and a former U.S. Marine Captain, who over the last six years devoted his time to improving education in New Jersey and working with the American Enterprise Institute to study the impact of the NJEA on New Jersey politics and taxes.