The Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey released another report today – “NJEA: Higher Taxes – Who Has Been Complaing About the Sales Tax Anyway“.
Thanks to the NJEA’s lobbying, state law permits collective bargaining for multiyear contracts with career salary schedules. The NJEA directs local associations to use “step and lane”salary guides, which are now universal in New Jersey. These salary guides take the decision to give raises out of the hands of local school boards. Under these guides, employees get automatic raises from year to year (“steps”) with multiple columns providing higher pay for graduate degrees (“lanes”). Combined with NJEA-backed laws that privilege teacher seniority, these factors inevitably result in higher compensation costs as teachers progress in their careers. The NJEA has consistently pushed to increase the salary levels within these guides. (page 7)
Exploiting the governorship of Jon Corzine— whom the NJEA helped elect and who famously told public union members at a rally, “I will fight for you”—the NJEA successfully pushed for creating a state-administered health program only for school employees, the School Employees Health Benefits Program (SEHBP). The NJEA and its allies gained significant control over the SEHBP Plan Design Committee, which sets the benefit levels available to employees. (page 9)
Pushing for state-level taxes also reduced accountability for spending increases at the local school district level. Mercatus’ Norcross and Sautet found: “By fracturing the relationship between those who benefit (e.g. local school districts) and those who pay (e.g. state income tax payers), the incentive to control costs, and accountability for spending has been systematically weakened through fiscal illusion.” This fiscal illusion and lack of accountability served the NJEA’s purposes well. (page 13)