WHAT A DIFFERENCE the Delaware makes when it comes to paychecks for state workers.
On the New Jersey side of the river, Gov. Chris Christie was basking in the glow of a national media tour yesterday, gloating about how he had struck a deal with Democratic legislators to force half a million state workers to pay more for health care and pensions while restricting their collective-bargaining rights for four years.
On the Pennsylvania side, state workers learned that they will have to suffer through . . . a one-year wage freeze followed by a 10 percent raise over the life of their four-year contract.
Council 13 and Local 668 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents 10,000 state workers, still have to vote on the contracts, which reduce sick leave from 13 days to 11 days per year and require them to pay more for their health care.
It was not that long ago that Christie and Corbett were more simpatico on state spending and less like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Corbett, while declaring victory during the Nov. 2 general election, vowed to "look across the river" to emulate Christie's hard-charging, cost-cutting ways.
But that started to look different by March. While Christie rolled around Jersey, daring anyone to question his calls during town-hall meetings, Corbett took a soft approach during his March 8 state budget address.
"We cannot keep asking taxpayers to cover increased salaries and health-care benefits for public-sector employees when those taxpayers are losing the same," Corbett told legislators then.
A month later, Corbett proposed a three-year deal for the state's largest union, Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which asked its 45,000 employees to approve a 4 percent pay cut in the first year followed by 2 percent raises in the second and third year.
A Quinnipiac University Poll released last week showed that 45 percent of the 1,277 registered voters polled thought the wages and benefits of state workers were too high while 12 percent said they were too low and 34 percent said they were about right.
Sixty-three percent of the Republicans asked that question said the pay was too high.
The voters were split on whether Corbett should lay off state workers to balance the budget - 45 percent said yes and 47 percent said no. Again, 63 percent of Republicans supported laying off state workers.
The state also has contracts with 15 smaller unions. The contracts for all 17 unions expire Thursday.