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OP-ED: State priorities wrong in A.C. spending cuts

When the word “bankruptcy” got inserted into the public conversation about Atlantic City about a year ago, elected officials outside of Atlantic City started to pay attention. They didn’t pay attention to local elected leaders, because they knew they wouldn’t have to. The law the governor and Legislature were about to pass stripped away much of the mayor’s and City Council’s governing authority. They didn’t pay attention to city residents either — because their ability to oppose measures via voter referendum would also be stripped away by the new law.

What they paid attention to were those seeking to profit from Atlantic City: bondholders, Wall Street and casino executives, and those looking to privatize public services.

The massive budget cuts imposed by the state make these moneyed interests happy. The cuts give them peace of mind that the city’s bond rating will improve and debt payments will be made.

Unfortunately, the real impact is felt by residents and public workers throughout Atlantic City. Massive cuts and layoffs of police and firefighters are being pushed and public safety is being threatened.

The New Jersey State AFL-CIO and public workers employed in Atlantic City have launched an awareness campaign to educate residents about the inability of the state takeover officials to properly fund the most important of government services — keeping residents safe.

The public should join us. Only through our collective voices can we send a message that Trenton’s priorities in Atlantic City are all wrong.

Op-Ed from New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech published in the Press of Atlantic City on March 19, 2017.

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