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Sweeney broke vows to public employees in NJ; Stop Trump’s health, education starvation diet | Feedback

Sweeney broke vows to public employees in NJ; Stop Trump’s health, education starvation diet | Feedback
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State Sen. Stephen Sweeney has consistently betrayed the trust of public employees like myself throughout his tenure in office. 

Sweeney (D-Gloucester), who currently serves as Senate president, portrays himself as a champion of working people, but nothing could be further from the truth. He has maintained an unnaturally cozy relationship with Republican Gov. Chris Christie, whose administration has been been an unprecedented disaster for public employees. 

Sweeney championed legislation that opened the door for ridiculous and inequitable public employee contributions to health care costs that have consumed every negotiated pay increase over the last eight years. Many public employees actually take home less money today than they did eight years ago. We can thank Sweeney for that. 

We can also thank Sweeney for his bald-faced lie to me and other public school employees. In 2016, after promising to do so, he failed to bring to a Senate vote his own proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have required the state — if voters had approved — to make its full annual contributions to public pension accounts. 

Also, Sweeney supported the recent 23-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax hike to fund the state Transportation Trust Fund. These new taxes have done nothing so far,  as anyone driving on the New Jersey Turnpike can clearly see. 

It’s time to consider an alternative to career machine politicians like Sweeney, who is running for re-election to his 3rd Legislative District Senate seat in November. Endorse candidates who will represent the interests of the working public by keeping their promises to all of their constituents.

John Gardiner, Sewell

Stop Trump’s health, education starvation diet

Policies of the president and Congress are quickly surrendering America’s chances for an optimistic future to nations that heavily invest in their people. 

According to Factcheck.org, our military expects that it would reject 71 percent of 17-24-year-olds for service if everyone in that age group were to apply. In a leading reasons: obesity, crime, drug abuse and lack of education. Based on a survey in 2000, the World Health Organization ranked America’s health efficiency at 37th, far below France, Italy and Japan. 

Despite these ominous warnings, the Republican-controlled Congress almost succeeded in its efforts to gut Medicaid and other health insurance programs. And President Donald Trump has threatened to use executive power to starve some of these programs.

Trump’s proposed federal budget cuts K-12 and higher education funding by a devastating and untenable 13.5 percent. His secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, for example, wants to starve public education by transferring billions of dollars into private-school vouchers, a school-choice concept still searching for a strong body of research support. 

So, how will such policies help America compete with nations that invest in their people? How will they help America achieve the hopes of the Constitution’s preamble: “To … insure domestic Tranquility … promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”?

They won’t.

Howard Margolis, Voorhees Township

Note: The writer is professor emeritus of reading disabilities and special education at the City University of New York.

Praise land preservation in South Jersey

It may not be discussed as much as other issues, but preserving open space and farmland for future generations is one of government’s most important functions. 

This prevents overdevelopment and protects the natural beauty that exists across our state, especially here in South Jersey. That is why I applaud the efforts of our representatives, and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney in particular, for consistently supporting these programs through advocacy and grant funding. 

These efforts are absolutely essential to maintaining the agricultural character of our region. Perhaps more than anything else, it is our open space and farms that separate us from surrounding cities like Philadelphia and New York. I thank  Sweeney and every other government official who continues to make land preservation a top priority. 

Joan Medany, Deptford Township

Editor’s note: The writer is employed by Gloucester County as an agriculture and natural resources secretary in the cooperative extension unit.

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