As reported by nj.com, rank-and-file Democrats are lining up to take the microphone at a steadily growing union rally outside the Statehouse today, vowing to cast no votes on a bill that would overhaul pension and benefits for teachers, cops, firefighters, and others.
Assemblymen Wayne DeAngelo, Daniel Benson, Patrick Diegnan, Reed Gusciora, Vincent Prieto, and state Sen. Ray Lesniak blasted the bill and said the changes being proposed should be negotiated, not legislated. “There’s a lot of sheep inside, and the lions are out here fighting,” Gusciora said as legislators inside the Statehouse took up the bill, designed by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, at a Senate budget committee hearing. Lesniak said he will introduce legislation reviving a millionaires’ tax, which would raise the marginal tax rate for people earning more than $1 million, on Monday.
Representatives from the largest state unions-the CWA, the NJEA, AFSCME and police and firefighter groups-are also planning to denounce the bill from the podium. “Do not think you can sell us out in June and buy us back in November,” warned Barbara Keshishian, the NJEA president. “I am mad as hell about politicians who were elected by the people but sell their votes to the powerful.”
Union workers in the audience were fired up, booing loudly, and sounding disapproving notes on a tuba at mentions of Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, and Governor Chris Christie.