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Cracker Squire

THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has seen his star rise nationally.



From The Wall Street Journal:

Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, and Barbara Keshishian, president of the state's teachers union, say they want to improve public schools. That's where agreement ends. In speeches, mailings and multi-million dollar TV ads, they've battled over teacher salaries, property taxes and federal education grants. They have met once, an encounter that ended when Mr. Christie threw Ms. Keshishian out of his office.

For Mr. Christie, 48 years old, the fight is part policy, part personality. He quickly has positioned himself as a politician in tune with an angry and impatient electorate, and he's already mentioned as a 2012 presidential candidate. He's well aware that the fate of his fight with the teachers union could determine his own.

New Jersey is heavily unionized with relatively high salaries for public workers of all stripes, teachers included.

New Jersey spends $17,794 a year per pupil, highest in the nation after Washington, D.C. New York isn't far behind at $16,981. California, Florida and Illinois all spend about $11,000; Mississippi, Utah, Tennessee and Idaho spend only about $8,000.

The average New Jersey teacher makes $61,277 a year, well above the U.S. average of $52,800, according to the National Education Association. New Jersey teachers get medical and other benefits costing $19,140 a year, according to the teachers union. The New Jersey Treasurer estimates its unfunded liabilities relating to lifetime health benefits for current and retired teachers is $36.32 billion.

To foot that and other bills, New Jersey residents pay an average of 11.8% of their income in state and local taxes, the highest in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think tank. The average property tax bill for owner-occupied residences in New Jersey is $6,579, also a U.S. high.

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