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Governor Chris Christie: Letter to the NJEA

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Published on Mar 24, 2010

Town Hall in Ramsey - March 24, 2010. (Transcript Below)

Governor Christie: I asked the School Boards Association and the state teacher's union to get together and to agree on a one-year pay freeze, that if teachers across the entire state of New Jersey led by their unions would agree to a one-year freeze in pay and contribute 1 ½% of their salary to their health benefit costs, that the $820 million in state aid that we had to cut this year because of the billion-dollar reduction in federal aid to education that we got in New Jersey, would be wiped out almost entirely. I want to believe the teacher's union when they put all those commercials on TV and say it's about the kids. Well here's the test: you see, it's easy to say it's about the kids when people are showering 4 and 5% raises on you every year. It's easy to say it's about the kids when you're getting a hundred percent of your medical benefits paid for by the public as is happening here in Ramsey and all over the state for the teacher's union. When you're getting everything you want it's easy to say it's for the kids. Now we've reached a moment where the till is empty, and we have to see, what are they going to do? Are they going to say no, we want our raises, we want our health benefits fully paid for, and the hell with our colleagues who will get laid off, and forget the children who will lose the services that are provided by those colleagues who are laid off. Forget about the programs that might need to be cut, because it's not about the kids. It's about us. Well, they had their chance to give an answer and we got it loud and clear yesterday of course with the teacher's union. What did they say? They said raise taxes Governor to pay for us, the same message they've given to every governor for the last 30 years. They said raise taxes. They've said it to every governor from Brendan Byrne forward, and because they are the $130 million bully of State Street, governors and legislators have caved to their arguments. Well, I'm not going to. We're not going to raise taxes on the people of the state of New Jersey anymore. And so the real question now is who's for the kids? Who's for the kids and who's for their raises? Who's for the kids and who's for their free health benefits? Who's willing to make shared sacrifice and who's willing to say let everybody else sacrifice? I'm going to keep my little bit right here. Because the public needs to understand that that's what this battle is over now. It's not about individual teachers in the classroom, believe me. Those teachers are smart enough to understand what's going on. They know it. In fact we had a group of teachers in Somerset County that wanted to come back and renegotiate their contract to a freeze and the county education association in Somerset County told them no, you're not allowed, so it puts a lie to the NJEA statement yesterday that oh, they're just a loose confederation of local associations that they only give advice and counsel to. Believe me, the instructions are coming down from the central office at the palace on State Street. Let me ask you a question: $130 million in dues every year. What are they doing with the money? Officers of the NJEA who no longer teach yet are accumulating a pension. Officers of the NJEA who no longer teach but we're paying for their health benefits. Teachers who crowded the Statehouse on Monday to try to intimidate public officials like Assemblyman Schroeder and Assemblywoman Vandervalk into not voting for pension and benefit reform, and when one teacher was asked what are you doing here today? It's a Monday in the school year, she said oh, we got a substitute. I left a plan. It's not like they're watching videos or something. They. Not like they're watching videos or something. I thought that was a really interesting part of the quote, that contraction they're. They didn't say the kids then, did they? No, they only use the words the kids when they want to evoke emotional response from you which will get you to open your wallet and pay them. When they're talking about protesting and fighting in Trenton then it's they're. They're not watching videos or something. I thought it was an interesting part of the quote. Language matters ladies and gentlemen. Language is a window into attitude, and this isn't about the kids, so let's dispense with that portion of the argument. And I heard these stories over the last week over and over again from all over New Jersey about teachers standing in the front of classrooms and lying about and excoriating the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor. And it is another indication of the bully intimidation tactics of this union...

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