New Jersey could save $210 million annually by privatizing a wide array of functions now peformed by state employees, including turnpike toll collectors, psychiatric hospital workers and state park administrators, according to a panel of experts appointed by Gov. Chris Christie to recommend ways to reduce the financial burden on Garden State taxpayers.
The Jersey Star-Ledger obtained an advance copy of the report.
"Preschool classrooms would no longer be built at public expense, state employees would pay for parking and private vendors would dish out food, deliver health care and run education programs behind prison walls," according to the newspaper.
Christie is battling old-school establishment politicians from both the Democratic and Republican parties in New Jersey in an aggressive campaign to rescue the state from an impending fiscal disaster brought on by decades of excessive spending, high taxes, and growing government employee and teacher union pension obligations.
His campaign is likely an advance look at the kind of domestic political struggles that will dominate American politics for decades to come, as the state and local government financial crisis seen now in New Jersey, California and New York spreads to other jurisdications.
The Star-Ledger quotedHetty Rosenstein, a spokesman for the state chapter of the Communications Workers of America, who criticized the privatization proposals as likely to result in "bad service" and "less safety." Rosenstein also predicted the plan would not actually save state taxpayers any money.