Saturday, August 25, 2007

Interview with the NJEA

At the request of the NJEA I had an interview several weeks ago, in an attempt to gain their endorsement.

In speaking to the panel I had said that more and more, many of your school budgets are being voted down. It is not because people do not want to see a better education for their children; they are running out of extra pocket money. The neighborhoods that were 30, 40 and even 50 years old, that supported the school systems are disappearing. Our seniors cannot afford to pay the increased taxes on their homes and must sell; our children cannot afford a down payment on a home in the neighborhoods they grew up in. Our neighborhoods are changing, and the support system for our schools that was once there, is eroding.

New Jersey becomes less affordable for low-income and young families trying to gain a foothold in our communities, as well as for seniors who are rich in property, but cash poor as property taxes continue to increase. That’s one aspect in the leveling of population growth, as people seek more affordable areas. New Jersey schools account for over 55 percent of all property taxes, and when you have people living from paycheck to paycheck, a $200 increase is a lot of money. The state is reaching a pinnacle, where government will have to choose between paying even higher property taxes and drastically cutting education, services or both.

I would like to say that I believe every retiree, and those near retirement should receive every penny that was promised to them. The teachers union has sued the state for failing to make pension payments, and rightfully so. Any state employee who bargained in good faith and diligently contributed to their pension fund should receive what is due to them. The fault lies with the politicians in New Jersey who failed to deposit those contributions into a system already lacking in funds. Politicians who took pension funds to make up for the shortfalls in other areas, and for failing to live up to its bargaining agreement. If that were to happen in the private sector it would be considered fraud.

The only way politicians will be able to get more money to fund this under funded pension is again by increasing taxes, even though we already have the highest property taxes in the country. The ones that will be stuck with paying for this increase are the taxpayers.

We desperately need a new school funding formula, which should have happened but won’t be addressed until after the November elections. Consolidating our school districts from 615 to 250, reducing administrative costs would free up money that is already there, that would be injected back into the education system. I also believe if NCLB cannot be fully funded the penalties placed on our school districts must be relaxed. It is unreasonable to expect full compliance from school districts that are financially unable to meet federal mandate goals, which place additional burdens on our communities. By under-funding the NCLB, community and state taxes will continue to rise to meet the federal demands.

One reason I did not receive the endorsement of the NJEA is that I had suggested that they contribute a small portion of their income, based on a salary tier towards their pensions, until it reaches what would be considered a reasonable wage. At that point they should be able to afford to fund their own benefits. I stated they could not continue to ask the general public to repeatedly fully fund pensions, when many are already being taxed to the max.

If anyone should propose that teachers unions switch to a defined contribution plan, they then protest that the legislature is unfair to teachers. The pressures from the teachers unions on our politicians know the system is failing; yet they still demand increased benefits.

I also said to the board that I may not receive the endorsement of the NJEA because of my position on this, but I cannot win on a principle I do not endorse.

Which is why my opponents received the endorsement of the NJEA, I am sure they agreed to everything the NJEA wanted.

At least they will receive the votes of the NJEA, even at the cost of higher property taxes to the citizens’ of New Jersey.

Joe Sinagra
NJ 18th District
Assembly Candidate

1 comment:

ciro said...

I, AS A SENIOR CITIZEN AGREE WITH THIS WHOLE HARDILY. FIRST OF ALL LET'S LOOK AT THE TEACHERS SALARY. WHEN YOU CONSIDER THE AMOUNT OF MONEY A TEACHER MAKES TO THE ACTUAL SCHOOL DAYS, THEY ARE THE HIGHEST PAID PROFESSION.......... IF THEY INSIST ON SOMEONE ELSE INVESTING IN THEIR PENSIONS, I PROPOSE THAT WHEN A PERSON REACHES THE AGE OF RETIREMENT, AND RETIRES, THAT THEIR SCHOOL AND PROPERTY TAXES BE FROZEN AT THAT POINT. TEACHERS SEEM TO WANT,WANT AND HAVE NO CONSIDERATION OF THE CONSEQUENCES. I DON'T BELIEVE THAT THE HIGHER THE SALARY, THE BETTER THE TEACHER. IN 1938 TEACHERS STARTED AT $50.00 A MONTH AND THE QUALITY OF THE STUDENTS GRADUATED WERE SUPERIOR TO THAT OF TODAY. AMEN.