Well, there you have it from an excellent report by NJ101.5: a perfect, one-sentence description of NJ’s political status quo, delivered by our state’s top elected officer. Gov. Murphy was elected with the strenuous support of the public sector unions – a.k.a, our most powerful special interests – and continues to work hand-in-hand with them to push their shared agenda via Super PACs like New Direction New Jersey (80% funded by, you guessed it, the public sector unions). The governor acknowledges a special-interest dominance that is “unlike any other state in America,” but he’s OK with it because he benefits from it. The rest of New Jersey, not so much.
The special-interest influence over Gov. Murphy can be seen in our state’s first COVID budget. As documented by Sunlight Policy, the public sector unions went 8-for-8 in major policy gains. (see Sunlight’s blog “New Jersey Governance in the Middle of a Pandemic: Run by and for the Special Interests“). But the rest of the state will suffer. NJ is already one of the most indebted states, but Gov. Murphy is borrowing another $4.5 billion, all of which will be consumed by a $4.7 billion payment into NJ’s broken and unreformed public pension system. This is throwing good money after bad, hard-earned tax dollars after massive unpaid debts.
The NJ101.5 article also highlights Senate President Sweeney’s desire to reform our broken pensions: “New Jersey has a lot of problems. It’s no secret. So these are hard problems to fix, but we’ve got to get serious with the finances of this state.” His Path to Progress reform package is an excellent starting point. Teachers should be paying attention because it is their pensions that are threatened by an insolvency.
We do have to get serious with the finances of the state. The teachers’ pension fund is one of the very worst in the nation and is running out of money. It’s a disaster looming on the horizon. Gov. Murphy is OK with that – so long as he continues to get the support of his special-interest pals. At least Sen. Sweeney is looking out for the rest of us. Let’s hope he succeeds.