Given our state’s looming budget deficit budget deficit and recent blows to the oil and shipping industries, Louisiana should take into consideration New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s proposed agenda to rein in superfluous state spending. Gov. Christie has been anathema to unions throughout the state of New Jersey due to his refusal to genuflect to them or give in to their unreasonable demands, and as such he has become regarded as a maverick. Throughout the country, states are suffering due to ever-expanding public sector costs. In Louisiana especially, the unfettered growth of the public sector has been largely responsible for creating conditions that now require much-maligned budget slashing.
Gov. Christie’s official proposal can be found online here. The foundation of his spending reform plan is a 2.5% cap on increases in property taxes and state spending. As seen in the original proposal, Gov. Christie initially called for only a single exemption from the cap on state spending, debt repayment. However, to push the bill through the Legislature, a compromise was ultimately made on four exemptions. Still, Gov. Christie’s efforts are vastly preferable to the previous New Jersey state law: a 4% cap with “at least 13 broad exemptions that render the cap virtually meaningless.”
Gov. Christie’s additional amendments, which will greatly reform government spending, are listed below his proposal. They include reforming arbitration for union contracts and pension benefits in municipal and education sectors, as well as revising layoff rules which protect seniority rather than performance. They are common-sense changes which if implemented will efficiently downsize unnecessary government expenditures and leave more money universities and hospitals, among other necessities.
What we need are strong leaders with the political courage to stand up to unions and interests groups and ensure the well-being of the people of Louisiana. Though Gov. Christie’s abrasive style has been criticized, our leaders in Louisiana can nonetheless learn much from his ability to implement positive fiscal change.