>Dems to Propose $23B ‘Putting Off Hard Decisions’ Fund [Daniel Foster]
National Review blog today: Democratic leadership in the Senate is proposing a $23 billion ’emergency’ fund that would act as a stopgap for states considering layoffs — primarily in education — to overcome budget deficits.
While nobody wants to see widespread teacher layoffs, this bill would represent yet another unpaid-for (hence the ’emergency’ bit, which lets Dems get around PAYGO rules) bailout of state and municipal governments, allowing them to once again put off getting their fiscal houses in order.
Closer to home, it could undermine the gutsy work being done by Gov. Chris Christie in my native New Jersey. As part of an across-the-board effort to close a nearly $10 billion budget deficit (in a $30 billion budget!),Christie has slashed state aid to local schools, but promised to restore it in districts where teachers agree to a one year pay-freeze, and to a 1.5 percent salary contribution to their health insurance. (Most New Jersey teachers currently pay zero for benefits that cover employees and their families from the first date of hire until their deaths — I know!)
A federal bailout to New Jersey could thus short-circuit any chance Christie had of balancing the powerful teacher unions by holding them accountable to parents and taxpayers for their out of control wages and benefits.