New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is doing what he was elected to do, govern. And that means playing hardball with union termites who refuse to give an inch to help the state out of budget problems primarily caused by untenable union promises, union wages, and union pensions.

When unions refused to cooperate, Christie decided to take the next logical step, to privatize jobs. Please consider New Jersey plans to privatize state jobs

Gov. Chris Christie today will create a commission to privatize as many as 2,000 state jobs beginning next January, officials said Wednesday night.

As he grapples with an $11 billion deficit in the budget he will present on Tuesday, Christie is also considering invoking the Disaster Control Act to suspend Civil Service rules to make it easier for him to lay off higher-paid workers, according to two administration officials.

The Republican governor today plans to sign an executive order creating the task force to cut the size and cost of the state payroll. Three officials familiar with his plans last night said the commission will identify which jobs or agencies would be operated by the private sector and how that would be accomplished. The officials declined to be named ahead of the announcement.

Privatizing jobs would require layoffs. By beginning them in January, Christie would not be subject to a deal between former Gov. Jon Corzine and state worker unions that would require the state to pay millions in raises to remaining workers if he orders layoffs before then.

Suspending civil service would allow Christie to order layoffs of higher-paid unionized state employees with many years of service, rather than the usual practice of layoffs that affect lower-paid new employees first, the officials said. Currently, workers with more seniority can “bump” less-experienced workers from their jobs.

The privatization effort deals a blow to state worker unions just 48 hours after Christie publicly acknowledged he is bound by the agreement struck by Corzine where state workers would get two 3.5 percent raises in the coming fiscal year Ð one in July and one in January. They deferred one raise and took 10 unpaid furlough days last year in exchange for the no-layoff pledge.

Two days ago when I read that the Union refused to give an inch on a ridiculous contract negotiated by former governor Corzine, I was delighted. The reason is I was pretty sure how Christie would respond. Today he hit a home run.

Moreover, his goal should be to privatize every government job he can. Why stop at 2,000?

Where’s The Leadership?

It’s too bad other governors refuse to follow Christie’s lead by cutting expenses. I talked about that previously in Missouri Budget Overstates Revenues By Up To $1 billion; Indiana Revenue Falls Short; Budget Battles In Washington; Budget Gaps In Kansas

Sadly, the governors in Missouri, Kansas, Washington, and Indiana fail to see the problem or are still looking for “tricks” to postpone dealing with those problems. There are no tricks left in the bag, yet states keep looking for tricks.

Add Virginia to the list of states playing trick-or-treat.

Federally Funded Ticketing Blitz In Virginia

Inquiring minds are reading Virginia State Police Help With Budget Crunch.

A federally funded ticketing blitz in the state of Virginia landed a total of 6996 traffic tickets this weekend. The blitz, dubbed “Operation Air, Land & Speed” coincided with frantic efforts by state officials to close a$2.2 billion budget deficit. Supervisors ordered state troopers to saturate Interstates 81 and 95 to issue as many tickets as humanly possible over the space of two days.

Activists with the National Motorists Association pointed out that enforcement efforts may have concentrated on areas where speed limits are expected to rise to 70 MPH following Governor Bob McDonnell’s signature on legislation raising the state’s maximum speed limit (view law). This would mean a significant number of tickets were issued for conduct that will be perfectly legal in a matter of months. The group also indicated that state police tactics may run afoul of state law.

Under the federal grant application process, state officials explained that they would pay officers overtime — at least one-and-a-half times their normal salary — to participate. This special reward for ticketing operation participants appears to violate the spirit of state law.

Message To Virginia Governor

Hello, Bob McDonnell, you are not even in the ballpark with what needs to be done. How about showing some leadership rather that resorting to traffic blitzes to shore up the budget? All you are doing is postponing tackling the real problem, a bloated state budget.

If the state police have nothing better to do than harass drivers in areas where the speeding limit is set to go up anyway, then Virginia should get rid of some of that police force, reducing the budget at the same time.

Brass Balls In Las Vegas

Finally! The mayor of a major city is looking into doing what needs to be done. Please consider Las Vegas Mayor Says City Should Fire All Workers

If Las Vegas can’t get the desired wage concessions out of its employee unions, the city should simply fire everyone and offer to rehire them to work a shorter work week, Mayor Oscar Goodman said Wednesday.

“I’m trying to save jobs. I really am,” Goodman said. “If it’s a strong-arm tactic, so be it. “If it’s legal, I’m going to propose it to the council. I think it’s the only way we’re going to save jobs.”

Goodman ordered the city attorney to study the possibility.

The idea didn’t go well with the unions. Several union presidents went so far as to call the mayor a bully. And Councilman Ricki Barlow also said he disagreed with the mayor.

The city faces a $70 million budget hole to fill and most likely a $40 million deficit in the next fiscal year, and the proposed solution to that hasn’t changed — all employees, Goodman said, should forgo their scheduled raises and accept 8 percent pay cuts in each of the next two years.

Or, under his fire-and-rehire plan, a new 37.5-hour workweek would trim costs 6.25 percent, and a 36-hour week would cut costs 10 percent, he said.

“I’ve never been as severely disappointed as this situation has caused me to be,” Goodman said about the unions being unwilling to open their contracts and accept needed changes.

Goodman also called for a study of whether the city should privatize its ambulance services, noting that his fire-them-all approach isn’t applicable to public safety employees.

Hello Mayor Goodman, you have the right idea, so just do it. And when you hire those workers back, privatize every one of the jobs, including police and fire. Don’t wimp out by privatizing just ambulance services. It’s time to show some brass balls.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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