NJ Gov. Chris Christie, the hero of the anti-tax activists, continues his relentless attack on labor with the cooperation of the state senate's president. The state Assembly? Not so much:
TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie and Senate President Stephen Sweeney were poised to announce an agreement on a plan to overhaul health and pension benefits for public employees but were stymied Wednesday after the compromise received a chilly reception in the Assembly.
"We are not there yet," said Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex), who found herself wedged between two of the state’s most powerful politicians.
Word of the agreement also drew quick opposition from public labor unions across the state, who said it represented an attack on collective bargaining rights by taking away their ability to negotiate health benefits.
The plan would require the state’s 500,000 public employees to contribute more money for their pensions and health benefits than they currently do, sources said, and freezing cost-of-living adjustments for retirees until the pension funds stabilize.
The overhaul, which lawmakers have agonized over since Christie took office a year and a half ago, would address two of the most costly issues facing the state.
New Jersey has promised $66.7 billion in medical benefits to current and future retirees — the highest price tag among the 50 states — but has not set aside a single penny to pay for it.
A little background on that. Another Christie, former Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, decided to fund tax cuts for the wealthy by deferring the state's mandated pension payments with pension-obligation bond issues. Guess how that turned out when the market tanked?
So most NJ voters aren't even aware that the Republicans basically borrowed huge amounts of money to fund tax cuts.
Oh, and remember Christie's recent helicopter ride? From Adam at Blue Jersey -- guess which donor Chris Christie was flying to see the day of his famous helicopter ride?
As noted recently at Blue Jersey, the lead Iowa Republican funder who Governor Christie met with during “CopterGate” was Koch business partner Bruce Rastetter. There is a very interesting history between Rastetter, the Koch brothers, their business interests and Chris Christie – and given Christie’s history of rewarding his cronies with lucrative contracts, this more than bears watching closely.
Let’s connect some very big dots.
Rastetter is a major early seed money donor to the very shady “American Future Fund”(“AFF”). In 2010, both the AFF and the Koch Industries PAC were involved in the Adler/Runyan Congressional race, as was Christie, who recorded an ad for Runyan in the closing days of the campaign.
Earlier this year, a Koch subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources Renewables LLC acquired Rastetter’s ethanol plants in an all cash deal. At the beginning of this past May, it was first reported that Rastetter, among others, would be coming to New Jersey in order to sweet talk Christie. As part of the report, Rastetter said the following about Christie:
"There isn’t anyone like Chris Christie on the national scene for Republicans," Rastetter said. "And so we believe that he, or someone like him, running for president is very important at this critical time in our country."[snip]
"He clearly understands smaller government, less government spending, job creation, and how to create a better education system — certainly, all the things I and those accompanying me care about."
Around three weeks later, Christie, in an about face from his lies campaign talk, decides to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”). This is also on the heels of a year-long multi-million dollar campaign by the Koch front group “Americans for Prosperity” to derail RGGI. Christie also announces that he will come out with his own “alternate energy plan”.
Over the next two weeks, Christie gets the visit from Rastetter and his delegation, and releases his energy plan, which lowers New Jersey’s goal for renewable energy by almost 1/3.
Imagine that. Just more of those coinky dinks that dog those hard-working Republicans...