Gov. Chris Christie ratcheted up his fight against the state’s largest teachers union today, criticizing its director’s half-million-dollar payday and saying districts could get cash back if teachers give up raises.
Christie said the pay package for the New Jersey Education Association’s Vince Giordano was "shocking" — more than $421,000 in salary and $128,500 in benefits in 2007 — and called the union part of the state’s "shadow government."
"Everybody has a right to make a living, but $550,000 for the executive director of the NJEA? It’s outrageous," Christie said.
An NJEA spokesman said its director now makes $300,000 a year, and the 2007 figure included deferred compensation paid when he was promoted.
Addressing the press today in an otherwise empty science lab at Montclair High School, Christie outlined a proposal to give districts money if teachers agree to wage freezes — a move the treasury department said could return just over $27 million to schools that saw $820 million in budget cuts.
Teachers union representatives said the offer was a paltry distraction from Christie’s refusal to increase taxes on the rich.
"He is politicizing the distribution of state aid," NJEA spokesman Steve Wollmer said. "He’s dug his heels in on reinstating the millionaires’ tax, and instead he’s trying to use state aid as a lever to force middle-class school employees and teachers to pay the price for his priorities."
In his relentless campaign against the NJEA, Christie has drawn parallels between the organization and other public entities. He calls the union’s dues public money because they are paid for by teacher salaries, and called on the group to "open its books." The union has responded by pointing out it is not public and saying it files all required financial disclosures. One of those is the 2007 tax form that shows Giordano’s salary and benefits.
I bet Christie doesn't have any problem with the bonuses paid out to the JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs employees who live in New Jersey.
Yet the "deferred compensation" for the NJEA head - that he says is "outrageous".
Well, maybe - but certainly not more outrageous than Wall Street execs getting 0% interest loans from all the money President Accountability and Uncle Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve are printing for them, betting that money high-risk, and paying themselves billion dollar bonuses at the taxpayer's largesse on those returns.
No - Christie is fine with that. So fine he doesn't even want to tax those bonuses.
As long as the people getting them are making over $400,000 a year, of course (and as the NY Times reported today, 2009 was a banner year for hedge fund managers.)
But teachers making $90,000 a year in his state - they have to take a pay freeze or be scapegoated for "hurting the kids" as he holds state aid hostage to his demands.
What a corrupt scumbag Christie is - making sure his fat cat rich friends are taken care of at the expense of the middle and working classes and students in his state's schools.