The November election is fast approaching and although former Ambassador Phil Murphy is in the lead, he continues to avoid direct interactions without handlers with the media.  His lead seems to have slipped a bit as well. According to a new Fox poll the lead that in some polls was as high as 20 points is now only 13.

One of the reasons may be the Democratic candidates outspoken plan to raise taxes.  We're already the highest taxes people in the nation and if the gubernatorial front-runner thinks we can solve the states fiscal problems with more taxes on working and middle class families he may head into some rough waters leading into the election.

Kim was outspoken about the need to maintain the bipartisan compromise setting a cap on real estate tax increases at 2% and effectively capping public union employees salaries. My issue with the actions from Governor Christie and Senate President Sweeney in 2011 is that cops were lumped in with all other sate workers. I think its grossly unfair and unrealistic to expect cops to bear the brunt of our budget woes. New Jersey's finest are already paying more in pension contributions leading to a near solvent pension system for them as well as carrying out the difficult duty of being a member of law enforcement. Kim agreed on today's show that it was time to let the cops manage their own pension separate from the state and I think that's a great first step. She did add saying that the way to get cops salaries to rise again would be to do something about school funding.

I've suggested that if you allow for the police unions to go back to arbitration with their salaries and you focus state aid to municipalities on emergency responders the local budget focus will have to be on schools. I'd like to see a similar plan as the implemented in Wisconsin. Separate first responders, forcing other public workers to negotiate locally and renegotiate all public health policies.  The estimate from Senator Jen Beck is that we could be saving more than $2 billion dollars in health care costs alone.

It's not right to expect a teacher to pay more of their salary in premium than cops without doing everything to lower those premiums in the first place. Teachers, firefighters and cops are all valuable members of our society and economy. As Kim said today, separate the cops & firefighters in terms of pensions, negotiate better health care terms and keep the cap on property taxes in place until the school funding is sorted out.

One thing is for sure, we can't continue to spend nearly 1/3 of our entire 35 billion dollar budget on debt service and expect to be able to make public employees whole at retirement.

Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea.

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