NJ Senate President Sweeney Talks Budget, Path to Progress
For this special edition of State of Affairs, Steve Adubato is joined by Senate President, Steve Sweeney (D) – NJ, to discuss the biggest issues facing the state including: NJ’s fiscal future; the public employee pension system; recommendations from the Path to Progress report; and a look to the 2020 Presidential election.
"Hi, I'm Steve Adubato. Everything you've ever wanted or needed to know about what's going on in the state of New Jersey in the Democratic Party, and also what it means nationally, we are pleased to be joined by the President of the Senate, New Jersey Senator Steve Sweeney. Good to see you Senator. It's great to see you Steve. You've been on the road a lot and you've been holding town meetings under the guise of... not the guise, in fact, the "Path to Progress" report... we've talked about this a few months back. What is the report? And why is it relevant to everyone watching right now, Senator? Steve, it's a pathway to fixing the state of New Jersey. And I want to make it clear. It's not my report. We had some of the top people in the state of New Jersey, economists, tax experts, government experts, put this report together, and I promised them, if they would work hard, that I would advance this report. It calls for, you know, fixing the pension system, fixing the healthcare system, pension-healthcare savings, if we change them, could be $3,000,000,000 where we could reduce taxes. Senator, let's clarify. When you say the pension and healthcare situation, you mean for state public employees? Yes. Break it down a little bit. What is... I've asked you this before, but bring us up to speed. What is the crisis? The crisis right now is, Steve, all the money that comes into the state each year, we have growth and revenue every year, every penny is going to pension and healthcare costs now. There's no money to invest in colleges. There's no money to invest anywhere unless you raise taxes. And New Jersey's got the fifth highest tax burden in the nation, and it's time to fix the problems rather than just keep taxing. What do you say needs to be done with public employees, who many argue, have in fact, made many concessions, including the Communication Workers of America, who I believe before Governor Murphy's recent budget address, they reached some sort of, quote unquote, "historic agreement" on compromising regarding healthcare benefits? I mean, didn't they make progress already? Listen, I give the CWA credit for making progress. They made progress. They're not where we need to be, but they actually stepped forward and negotiated. One of the things you have to understand, Steve, a lot of the... when the governor announced $800,000,000 in savings, along with the CWA, a lot of those recommendations came from the legislature last year, that the administration had said, "We don't believe," but I..."