The Reverend Al Sharpton will join national union leaders in scheduled rallies today across New Jersey to draw attention to hardships facing working families. The adversities in question include budget cuts that squeeze the middle-class, according to labor leaders.
The American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Lee Saunders, the international secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, will join Sharpton.
The trio plan on leading a morning rally to protest the closing of a psychiatric facility in Vineland, followed by a panel discussion with state lawmakers at noon, culminating with an evening rally in Newark.
Governor Christie has proposed a 7 to 11 percent cut in the state’s general assistance program, while simultaneously vetoing 2010 legislation that would have temporarily raised taxes on those in the top income brackets. Overall, Christie slashed $820 million in state aid last year and $1 billion from school funding.
Christie is now being sued by the Education Law Center, which says the cuts violate the funding requirement set by courts. The governor’s education cuts were so deep they left New Jersey schools unable to provide “thorough and efficient” education to the state’s 1.4 million school children, according to a Superior Court judge.
The case is now being heard by the state Supreme Court, but Christie apparently believes the court’s ruling will be an adorable suggestion rather than official decree. During the “Ask the Governor” radio program on New Jersey 101.5, Christie said ignoring the Supreme Court ruling was “an option.”
During the hearing, Associate Supreme Court Justice Barry Albin asked twice about Christie’s decision not to renew a “millionaires tax” to raise revenue, according to NJ.com. Christie criticized this line of questioning, saying Albin was advocating to “put his hand in the pockets of the taxpayer of New Jersey, take money and determine himself how it should be spent.”
It was last year when Christie took a record two minutes to veto the extension of the millionaires tax certified by the state Senate. The move raised taxes on senior citizens while cutting them for the rich.
Christie and other conservatives argued that such a tax would stifle job growth and cause rich people to flee the state. Yet, that threat never manifested in reality after the tax’s implementation in 2004. A study by sociologists Cristobal Young at Stanford and Charles Varner at Princeton found the millionaire population actually grew over the period of the study, even through the recession.
The study found that the overall population of millionaires increased during the tax period. Some millionaires moved out, of course. But they were more than offset by the creation of new millionaires.
They found that the rate of out-migration among millionaires was in line with and [sic] rate of out-migration of submillionaires. The tax rate, they concluded, had no measurable impact.
This suggests that the policy effect is close to zero,” the study says.
The assault on education is but one of many complaints working families have against the governor. There’s also his attack of collective bargaining rights, women’s health care and issues of fair taxation.
Christie has made no secret of his intent to go to war on unions. One of his first acts in office last year was signing an executive order banning state worker unions from making political donations over $300 per campaign. Ultimately, an appeals court blocked that order from taking effect.
According to NJ.com, Christie mockingly says he “loves” collective bargaining, and yet he refuses to negotiate health or pension benefit reforms, and instead looks to reduce those programs through legislation.