As Many As 2,000 State Jobs To Be Privatized

privatizeGov. Chris Christie Thursday will create a commission to privatize as many as 2,000 state jobs beginning next January, officials said tonight. As he grapples with an $11 billion deficit in the budget he will present on Tuesday, Christie is also considering invoking the Disaster Control Act to suspend Civil Service rules to make it easier for him to lay off higher paid workers, according to two administration officials. The Republican governor today plans to sign an executive order creating the task force to cut the size and cost of the state payroll. Three officials familiar with his plans tonight said the commission will identify which jobs or agencies would be operated by the private sector and how that would be accomplished. The officials declined to be named ahead of the announcement. 

Privatizing jobs would require layoffs. By beginning them in January, Christie would not be subject to a deal between former Gov. Jon Corzine and state worker unions that would require the state to pay millions in raises to remaining workers if he orders layoffs before then.


Suspending civil service would allow Christie to order layoffs of higher paid unionized state employees with many years of service, rather than the usual practice of layoffs that affect lower paid new employees first, the officials said. Currently, workers with more seniority can “bump” less experienced workers from their jobs.

Christie’s office declined to comment tonight beyond a brief statement about his schedule, saying he will create “a task force to study and make recommendations on the potential efficiencies to be gained from privatizing certain functions of state government.”

Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Morris), who was briefed on the plan with other top lawmakers today, said he believes privatization “will be effective. It’s something people will back him on.” Other lawmakers of both parties who were briefed declined to comment.

The privatization effort deals a blow to state worker unions just 48 hours after Christie publicly acknowledged he is bound by the agreement struck by Corzine where state workers would get two 3.5 percent raises in the coming fiscal year — one in July and one in January. They deferred one raise and took 10 unpaid furlough days last year in exchange for the no-layoff pledge.

Hetty Rosenstein, state director for the Communications Workers of America, the largest state workers union, called privatization a “completely discredited” practice with a failed history in New Jersey that doesn’t save money.

Corzine invoked the Disaster Control Act in July 2006 in ordering the shutdown of state government after the unprecedented breakdown of budget talks. Corzine instituted temporary layoffs of “non-essential” state workers. They were later paid for the time off. Last month, during a speech on closing the current year budget gap, Christie said a state of emergency exists in New Jersey but did not actually invoke the Disaster Control Act.

Rosenstein said it would be a stretch to use the act to get around regulations sheltering veteran workers from layoffs. “It would seem to us to be a gross abuse of power to try to avoid reasonable time-honored law and procedure which was designed to protect the public from patronage,” she said. Star Ledger

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  1. WOW, guess it’s finally time to get out this State. We are going to start looking like some poor third world country very soon.

  2. If civil service is suspended that would provide opportunity to get rid of existing employees and replacing them with political appointments. Under civil service currently a higher position could bump a lesser position and so on down the line. If it is abolished a high paid employee could be laid off and a politico appointed in their place. Not a good move for taxpayers

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