NJ Ballot Question

In NJ this year we have but one ballot question, a constitutional amendment:

Shall the amendment to Article VIII, Section II of the State
Constitution, agreed to by the Legislature, which: prohibits
collection by the State of assessments based solely on
employee wages and salaries for any purpose other than
providing employee benefits; dedicates all employer and
employee contributions collected for any employee benefit
fund, and all returns on investments of those contributions, to
the purpose of that fund; and prohibits any transferring,
borrowing, appropriating or using of those contributions or
returns for any other purpose, be approved?

Got that?

here’s the “helpful” interpretive statement:

This proposed constitutional amendment prohibits the
collection by the State of assessments based on employee
wages and salaries for any purpose except paying employee
benefits (or making other employee-authorized or federally
required payments, in the case of the State’s own employees),
dedicates all contributions made to the unemployment
compensation fund, the State disability benefits fund, or any
other employee benefit fund, and all returns on investments of
those contributions, to the purpose of that fund, and prohibits
the use of those contributions or returns for any other purpose.
The requirements of this proposed amendment do not apply to
the gross income tax, which is exclusively dedicated by the
Constitution to the purpose of reducing or offsetting local
property taxes.

Now, I like to think that I are moderately intelligentical but I read that four or five times and could not figure out exactly what the hell they were talking about. First off, there most certainly is a part of me that agrees with the idea that things like this should be voted down in principle if they are not clearly expressed in English.

As to the substance, it seems to me this is the Legislature basically saying that “we can not be trusted not to raid state employee pension funds to use the cash for other purposes so you’d better take away our ability to do so.” This seems to me to be a good thing.

The state employee unions are against this proposal, which at first glance might be surprising, as it is basically a guarantee by the Legislature to fully fund their benefits, but what the unions are afraid of, and rightfully so, is that this will show how large these liabilities actually are and this will be used by the State in the future to both (a) not offer anywhere near as generous benefits and (b) even worse, from the unions’ point of view, be used as a very valid reason to hire as few new State employees as possible because we simply can not afford the ones we already have.

So I say, in spite of how crappily worded it is, vote “yes” on this.

16 Responses to “NJ Ballot Question”

  1. Suzette says:

    I did vote yes but not without the same kind of checking and double checking that you did.

  2. Mr. Bingley says:

    I knew your innate good sense would not lead you astray.

  3. Gary from Jersey says:

    The state Supreme Court will say it’s the opposite of what you think it means. We’ll just send checks directly to state workers and cut out the middlemen, who are state workers. Vote yes so we won’t pay the Legislature to hand over unemployment taxes to state workers. Who can’t be fired and collect unemployment. Seems clear to me.

  4. major dad says:

    What? You don’t speak lawyer? If you have to read it more than twice to understand it’s a bad thing. OTOH if the union is against it it must be good.

  5. tree hugging sister says:

    So, there should just be a box that has a little pollice verso hand on it for where state unions stand on any given amendment. If the union hand is thumbs up, you vote a hearty thumbs down. Union hand in box is thumbs down, taxpayer votes a giddy thumbs up.

    Saves everybody trees for paper and soy ink for printing.

  6. nightfly says:

    This is one of the scourges of legalese – you can never quite be sure of your obligations and standing before the law, unless one of the Elect (a lawyer) explains it to you. And even then, a heterodox judge may rule against you.

    Not a bug, folks: a feature. They don’t really want to know what you think or what you want, and they want to be justified in going ahead and doing what they please. We can’t fire these assclowns too soon.

  7. Yojimbo says:

    When I have a problem with a proposition I just look at who wrote the “yes” and “no” in the information package. Usually only take a few seconds to determine which way to vote. When I see unions or anything with “Alliance for” or “social justice” or “action” etc., I just get on the other bus.

  8. Mr. Bingley says:

    The interesting thing about this, Yojimbo, is that from what I could find out the unions in NJ that aren’t government ones, like the AFL/CIO, are in favor of it.

  9. NJ Sue says:

    The private sector unions are not that upset with what Christie is doing. They know their members won’t have jobs if the public sector is permitted to consume all of the state’s wealth. Steve Sweeney (D), the NJ Senate president, is also a member of the Ironworker’s Union. He’s not done much to get in Christie’s way.

  10. Jim - PRS says:

    I read it several times too and scratched my head. I think you have it right, and the Asbury Park Press agrees in saying that voting “yes” is sadly necessary. One shouldn’t have to amend the constitution to prevent legislators from acting irresponsibly. So, I’ll be voging “yes.”

  11. Bobby Cousins says:

    I guess we have to vote yes. However, at this point it’s probably better to move out of NJ. Those of you in Morris County, write in Jim Murrary for Freeholder. Ann Grossi is running against him – don’t vote for her. Grossi is a huge spender from Parsippany who likely will vote to increase your county taxes.

  12. Mr. Bingley says:

    Don’t give up on NJ yet, Bobby. If we can start taking back the State Legislature we can start turning things around.

  13. FUZZMAN says:

    Lately the politions in NJ are like a bunch of stink bugs, trying to get into any house. when they get in they stink up the place. the interpitation of the ballot questins, forget about it, ya need a lawyer to explain em to ya…… Just a bunch of stink bugs hanging around….

  14. Linda says:

    I think there is a twist to this. You want to vote yes because it s the right thing to do, However there is dishonesty here too, I think the democrats are dragging their feet on the tool box issue because making a pension payment is a bargaining tool right now to get reform done. Therefore they are waiting for election day to see if they have any control before the toolbox makes them reduce their benefits .

  15. Bob says:

    You’re actually wrong about union opposition. The unions are firmly in support of the amendment. Anti union types like you often misrepresent what the unions are “for” in order to make them look bad.
    Here’s the proof: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/10/voters_to_decide_if_state_shou.html

  16. Mr. Bingley says:

    Howdy Bob. If you followed the link I posted in the comments you might have noticed that I showed how the AFL/CIO is in favor of the ballot question. While I had not seen the NJ.com link you posted before (thanks for that) I had in fact seen this article from NJ.com in March, when this ballot question was proposed, and the CWA was pretty firmly against the question. Perhaps they’ve changed their mind; the CWA website doesn’t provide any guidance one way or another.

    I voted “yes” on this, because it seems to be the right thing to do, so how “anti-union types like me” does that make me in your learned view?

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