This is a very interesting article regarding how Governor Christie employed some "fuzzy math" to reduce the State's legally mandated pension payment. NJSPOTLIGHT
As reported in the Newark Star Ledger, the New Jersey State Legislature is in the process of acting to renew the 2% Interest Arbitration Police and Fire Salary Cap. The State Assembly's budget committee voted to approve bill (A3067), sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), that would temporarily extend an annual salary cap on interest arbitration awards. The Senate's state government committee also approved its own version of the bill (S1869), sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester). It is expected that the bills will move the Senate and Assembly Floors this week.
In 2010, as part of Governor Christie's self professed "tool kit" which was supposedly aimed at slowing the growth of property taxes, the Legislature enacted a 2% salary cap on interest arbitration awards. The current version of the law is set to expire on April 1, 2014. Under the proposed Assembly bill, the 2% salary cap would be extended until 2017. That's short of the permanent cap that Gov. Chris Christie and the state League of Municipalities have called for. But it is also against the wishes of police and fire unions, who had called for the cap to be scrapped altogether.It is our understanding that the Senate bill closely mirrors the Assembly version.
In a report issued last week, unsurprisingly, a state panel tasked with examining the law was split 4-4 on whether to renew the cap. The task force was made up of four police and fire union officials, three Christie administration officials and one Republican assemblyman.
In an interview, Prieto said the bill incorporates the task force's few unanimous recommendations: Increasing maximum pay of arbitrators from $7,500 to $10,000, giving arbitrators more time to make a decision, and giving the Public Employment Relations Commission more time to consider appeals of arbitration decisions. However, the bill will also includes some concessions to the unions, to include enlarging the cap to 3% in certain circumstances, while also allowing some unions to bargain for raises in wages without any restrictions at all.
As always, we will keep you updated as these two bills move through the Assembly and Senate.
A recent editorial published on NJ.Com calls for Assembly Speaker, Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson County) to renew the two percent (2%) salary cap on interest arbitration awards for law enforcement officers and firefighters that is set to expire on April 1, 2014.
As reported in NJ.COM, the beating of State Corrections Officer Elegia Then by an inmate in New Jersey State Prison has finally attracted media attention to the fact that NJ State Corrections Officers no longer receive Sick Leave Injury Benefits (SLI) for injuries that occur during the course of duty.
As reported on NJ.Com, Chris Christie urged Democrats in the state Legislature to work with him to overhaul the public workers’ retirement fund for a second time, or he would take “extreme measures” if they failed to cooperate.
“I’m ready work with the entire Legislature to come up with ideas to fix this, but if they’re unwilling to that do that, this is a problem we’re going to own,” Christie said during a town hall meeting in New Jersey, “I’m willing to take more extreme measures.”
Furthermore, expanding on this premonition, on his radio show on NJ 101.5 FM, Christie stated that he has “significant powers” through “executive action” to make changes to the pension system. The Governor declined to elaborate, however all Public employees throughout the State of New Jersey are well aware of the “executive actions” Christie is referring to as he removed the ability to collectively bargain for health care benefits through executive legislative action.
In his opening remarks, Christie repeated a line from the budget address that this year’s budget is smaller than the 2008 spending plan without pension, health care and debt service costs. The total spending plan — the largest in state history — is $34.4 billion and includes the full, legally required $2.25 billion pension payment. We will continue to follow this issue and keep our readers posted as it develops.