The Newark-based Star Ledger punches back on Chris Christie for bullying teachers in his State of the State address:
He's continuing to beat up on [teachers] because he knows it plays well to his conservative base, which harbors a deep animus toward their union.
Yet Christie's not just targeting union leaders. He's slamming teachers. He acts like they are cheating the taxpayers, simply by collecting their salaries and using their health benefits.
Give us a break. The fact is, we promised these people a salary and benefits when they taught our kids. It is embedded in their contracts and in the law.
To go back now, when the bill is due, and imply that they are swindling us is a form of slander. Yet that's exactly what Christie did in his speech last week -- even though he could have easily made his case for benefit cuts without smearing hard-working people in the classroom.
...Teachers make these investments over many years, and the state should also be making its investments over many years. That's how any pension system works. Problem is, the state didn't live up to its end of the deal. Christie and his predecessors -- both Republican and Democrat -- underfunded this system and made it unaffordable. His own commission concluded that the main problem with the pension system is that the state has skipped payments.
To make it sound like [teachers] are thieves, and doing something unfair, is offensive and poisons the discussion.