What's it say about the attractiveness of New Jersey communities that the state Senate on Thursday approved a proposal that would require state-government workers to live in the state?
Residency requirements like this one favored by Gov. Christie have gone the way of the dodo bird, for the most part.
Even the Philadelphia Police Department soon will allow veteran officers to live outside the city if they choose to do so, thanks to the latest round of labor negotiations. (If only Mayor Nutter had gotten serious cost-saving measures in exchange for that gift to the police union . . . but that's another story.)
The fact that neighboring communities in Pennsylvania and New York attract Jersey public employees apparently sticks in the craw of the new governor. Really, though, what's the point of this proposal other than to worsen the punitive climate for public (and unionized) employees?
No matter where state workers live, they still pay their share of the New Jersey state income tax. They buy lunch in the towns where they work, and many even have to fork over bridge tolls for the privilege of getting to the office.
And frankly, Jersey towns deserve more respect than Christie - and the supportive bipartisan coalition of lawmakers including Senate President Stephen Sweeney - give them by virtue of this proposal.
There are many reasons people choose to settle in neighboring states that have nothing to do with how charming or not a nearby Jersey community might be: affordability of housing, local tax rates, transportation networks.
The answer to attracting more state workers to their home turf might be to work on solving these economic issues, rather than passing a law to require public employees to put down stakes within state borders.
At least the current proposal doesn't contain earlier language that covered all public employees. But the bill still would require newly hired government workers to move in-state within a year of their employment, and the provisions would kick in if any current employees change jobs among agencies.
The broad reach of the bill means that the complications posed by these rules would touch virtually all state, county, and municipal governments, and public authorities, schools, and universities.