As reported by NJ.com, nearly 10 percent more government workers retired in the first seven months of the year than in the same period last year, a rise some labor leaders say is a response to Governor Chris Christie’s overtures toward cutting benefits. More than 13,000 public employees retired through July, compared with fewer than 12,000 in 2014, and the increase was concentrated among state workers and public safety employees, state data shows. ” Every time this governor opens his mouth and comes out with a new report or threatens a new report…he scares our guys right to the retirement line,” said Ed Donnelly, president of the New Jersey State Firefighters’ Mutual Benevolent Association.
In February, Christie threw his support behind a sweeping set of recommendations for government workers’ health and retirement benefits. The Republican Governor, who was gearing up for his then all-but-certain presidential campaign, said the State’s exploding worker benefits costs compelled him to take benefits on for a second time. Six months later, Christie’s “roadmap” hasn’t taken off, but it wasn’t completely without consequence, New Jersey labor leaders say. Christie’s efforts to say the State billions by cutting benefits sowed fear among state employees and sent some rushing to retire sooner than they’d otherwise planned, they said.
“I can speak for the cops. The cops are nervous,” said Patrick Colligan, president of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association. “And the guys who have put in their time are afraid that something else is coming down the road.” “The fear is that he’ll legislate something that will affect people while they’re still here,” Colligan said. “That’s why people have their fingers on the retirement button, people who are eligible by not ready to go.”
Through the first seven months of this year, the number of workers who have retired or notified the State of their plans to retire is up 9.6 percent from the same period in 2014. If retirements continue at that pace, which is uncertain, nearly 19,500 workers could exit-a level on par with 2011. To Donnelly, the date merely affirms what he already knew: “If you (compare) the number of retirements to where we were legislatively or politically, those numbers rise and fall based on the stability of pensions and benefits.”
Please continue to check this blog periodically regarding any proposed changes to health and retirement benefits. Undoubtedly, any such proposed changes will have an enormous impact on all New Jersey Public Safety Officers going forward.