New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech issued the following statement on Gov. Christie’s recent veto of a bill establishing standards for privatization of government services:
“By vetoing legislation ensuring that a government service was privatized only if it saved money, Gov. Christie ignored a recommendation from his own task force that savings drive future privatizations,” said Wowkanech. “What the governor erroneously describes as the bill’s ‘many restrictive provisions’ are built-in fiscal protections for taxpayers and job protections for public workers.”
The bill required that a contract for the privatization of public services not be executed without cost analysis demonstrating actual savings for the agency and taxpayers _ without increasing fees to the public, reducing services or lowering workforce standards such as staff qualifications and salaries. The legislation did not prohibit privatization; it imposed common-sense mechanisms to ensure that any savings promised to taxpayers would actually materialize.
New Jersey residents have seen prior high-profile privatization failures first-hand:
- Lottery. The sales and marketing functions of the most successful state lottery in the nation are being turned over to Northstar New Jersey. The sole bidder paid New Jersey $120 million up front for its 15-year contract, which helped Christie balance the state budget.
- New Jersey Network. Gov. Christie ended 40 years of New Jersey-centered public television by closing NJN’s studios in 2011. One hundred thirty workers lost their jobs.
- Motor Vehicles. Initial efforts to privatize motor vehicle inspection services backfired. A State Commission of Investigation concluded the process was “thoroughly undermined by mismanagement and political manipulation.”
By vetoing this bill, the governor missed an opportunity to add transparency and accountability to future privatization efforts.