Says Privatization Should Be Used to Find ‘Conscientious Cost Savings,’ not as a Weapon Against Public Employees
TRENTON – State Senator Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, the sponsor of S-2323, legislation which would set standards and practices for government privatization, in order to protect public jobs and services, issued the following statement today regarding the announcement of a coalition of organizations dedicated to fighting privatization that results in diminished services or a reduced public workforce:
“We often hear the phrase ‘Government should act more like a business.’ Considering the many instances in the last few years in which the private sector has either let down its workers, corrupted or abused the public trust, or engaged in unscrupulous and outright illegal activity, all in the name of posting a profit, I don’t know that it’s such good advice.
“Government was never intended to act under the same principles and guidelines which dictate success in the private market. We give away our profits, either to fund worthy programs or services we all rely on, like quality roads, environmental protection and public health, or we give it back to the taxpayers in the form of tax relief. In fact, government is the only area I know in which, if we don’t spend most of the revenues we take in each year, we’re not doing our job.
“That’s not to say that government can’t learn a thing or two about the efficient delivery of services or reducing waste and abuse which end up inflating the cost to the taxpayer. But we shouldn’t seek out cost savings which put hard-working, honest people out of work, or drastically reduce the level of services that New Jerseyans have come to expect.
“I’ve sponsored legislation which would set basic guidelines for when privatization takes place. Under the bill, government officials at any level would be prohibited from instituting privatization if cost savings are achieved through a reduction in workforce or services, or if the final cost to the taxpayers is increased. Privatization for the sake of privatization cannot and should not take place in the Garden State.
“I hope that this bill is considered soon so that New Jersey’s hard-working public employees are given assurances about the safety of their jobs, and so that New Jersey taxpayers can breathe a sigh of relief, confident that the programs they rely on will still be in place.
“We certainly have to do more to control the cost of New Jersey government, but not at the expense of our dedicated workforce or the programs that people depend on. This bill would ensure that privatization is used only to find conscientious cost savings, and not wielded as a weapon against public employees. The men and women who work every day to serve the public interest deserve to know that their jobs won’t be eliminated based on arbitrary cost savings targets and empty promises that privatization will yield those results.”