Governor Christopher Christie discovered he could not lay off state workers without triggering an automatic raise, then started a commission to study privatizing state government jobs. Some of Christie’s nominees were either confirmed by the senate or approved by the judiciary committee (with some uncomfortable questioning in the case of Janet Rosenzweig). And Christie once again pulled out the veto pen, this time voiding spending – again – by the Delaware River and Bay Authority.
So how did Christie and the legislative leaders do? We asked two pollsters two grade their performances.
Governor Christopher J. Christie
Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute
Comment: In what was his first “My bad!” moment as governor, Christie claims he now can’t lay off state workers without kicking in this year’s contracted raise. Well, we all knew that the pay increase was only deferred, not withdrawn. If he lays people off in July, he would just have to start paying the raises sooner rather than later. And if he waits until midway through the fiscal year, he can do so without penalty (which can be figured into his upcoming budget). So why all the fuss?
Peter Woolley, director of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll
Comment: That’s for denying various no-bid and unspecified service contracts with the Delaware River and Bay Authority. The new privatization task force will be asking a question that’s worth asking. Let’s see what their answers are (…like a homework assignment). Meanwhile, the stark threat of higher NJ Transit fares threatens to hurt the governor in public opinion polls unless the administration can get ahead and stay ahead on the platform of reforming this agency.
Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney
Comment: The Senate has been swimming along fine this week. But the dual office-holding Senate President seems to have been more concerned with retaining Democratic seats on the Gloucester County Freeholder Board than with statewide concerns. Sweeney says he will step down as Freeholder Director after he takes care of “unfinished business” (translation: “retain Democratic control of the freeholder board”). Isn’t there more than enough work in Trenton to occupy his time?
Comment: Allowing NJ wineries to ship their nectar directly to customers is a step forward… I guess. But approving Bret Schundler as Education Commissioner brings us nearer to a sure-to-be-exciting Public-Schools smack down.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver
Comment: Aside from voicing some concerns about privatization of state jobs, there was little public activity from the Assembly Speaker this week. Those pension reform bills ain’t going to pass themselves, you know.
Grade: I (Incomplete)
Comment: All Party, no work