When Gov Florio proposed raising taxes by $2.8 billion to fund education and increase homestead rebates (QEA), the NJEA went ballistic, despite $? going for increased funding for education. In a classic example of what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine; and, no good deed goes unpunished, the NJEA went after Florio with a vengeance, teaming up with Hands Across New Jersey and the NRA (which had its beef against Florio for his proposed ban on assault weapons) and a fledgling local radio station, 101.5 FM, which railed against the tax increase, highlighting the toilet paper tax.
Seems like the additional funding for education was not enough for the NJEA. It objected to Florio’s proposal to include the state’s contribution to the teacher’s pension fund in the school aid formula, thus making school boards feel the impact salary increases would have on its state aid. The higher pension payments by the state resulting from salary increases would be balanced by a reduction in state aid.
The teamwork of 101.5, the NJEA, Hands Across New Jersey and the NRA successfully stirred up anger against Florio and his Democratic legislators, helped create the program model for 101.5 and boosted the radio station’s political influence exponentially.
The NJEA won the battle. The legislature repealed that part of QEA that took into account state pension payments. A pyrrhic victory at best, considering the consequences – an emboldened 101.5 turning the tables on its former ally.