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Will Christie Sign Prevailing Wage Bill?

Elimination of Local Voter Approval Also A Political Test For Christie’s 2016 Ambitions

Water Privatization Scheme Comes With a Political Price

“This is such a bad deal for the citizens of New Jersey. This is crazy… just giving away our water supply.”   State Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex). 

I don’t think the Governor cares about NJ and Senator Smith’s criticisms, but the controversial water infrastructure privatization bill now on Governor Christie’s desk contains 2 right-wing litmus test provisions that pose a political challenge for the Governor that I’m sure he does care about.

Section 9 of the bill requires that labor receive prevailing wage.

In the Assembly State and Local Government Committee hearing on the bill, the two Republicans on that Committee grilled witnesses on the prevailing wage issue. They both opposed the bill on that ground and voted against it.

Republican base primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire sure don’t like what the view as government mandates that support “union thugs”.

The bill also would eliminate the current requirement for local voter approval of any privatization scheme.

Even one of NJ’s most conservative Senators and ALEC representative, Sussex County Republican Senator Oroho opposed that:

Sussex official speaks out against state water bill

New Jersey Herald‎ – Dec 16, 2014
A Sussex Borough councilwoman is concerned about how fast a bill called … a nonprofit advocacy group, to speak against water privatization at past …Oroho previously said that he would not vote for bill that would strip away .

Again, Republican base voters support home rule and voter referenda, so Christie would pay a political price for that in any 2016 Presidential primary bid.

So, just how bad does Christie want his privatization scheme?

As I’ve written, the Sweeney Democrats did Christie’s dirty work on that, and tried to appease their labor friends with the prevailing wage and right of first refusal provisions.

As I wrote,

And there is no doubt the bill has the behind the scenes support of and will be signed by Gov. Christie as a key feature in the Governor’s Privatization policy initiative (see:

But I was thinking about the policy, not the politics.

In that regard, because the bill would strip BPU’s ability to review the contract of sale of the public water system to determine if it is reasonable, the bill is also consistent with the Governor’s deregulatory policy.

In his first hour in office, Governor Christie issued:

  • Executive Order #1 establishing a moratorium of regulations;
  • Executive Order #2 calling for “immediate regulatory relief”, cost benefit analysis, and rollback of NJ’s strict State standards to their federal minimum;
  • Executive Order #3 attacking regulations as “job killing red tape” and
  • Executive Order #4 prohibiting unfunded state regulatory mandates on local governments

While the water privatization bill is part of the Gov.’s right wing privatization and deregulatory policy, still, the current politics may influence what the Governor does with the bill.

Personally, I would love it if he CV’d the prevailing wage, right of first refusal, and voter approval and sent it back to the Democrats in the Legislature.

Surely, that would kill it.

[PS – Note To Senator Smith: I felt the same way about your bill that privatized toxic site cleanup – crazy.]

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