As reported by nj.com, a divided State Supreme Court said judges and justices don’t have to chip in more for their pension and health benefits like other state workers because New Jersey’s Constitution prevents them from having their pay cut. The 3-2 decision drew swift responses from the leaders of New Jersey’s two other branches of government, which last year enacted a law requiring higher contributions from state workers.

Governor Chris Christie called it a case of “liberal activist judges running amok” while Democrats who run the state Legislature said they may ask voters to change the state constitution to force judges to pay more. The state’s bar association, however, called it a win for judicial independence, saying judges “will remain free from political retaliation when judges make an unpopular but just decision.”

The highly anticipated decision, which affects most of the more than 375 Superior Court judges and Supreme Court justices who were on the bench when the law went into effect, strikes at a key component of Christie’s effort to trim spending on employee salaries and benefits and stabilize pension plans.

The Court said making judges contribute more for their benefits constitutes a pay cut, and that the state Constitution forbids the other branches from reducing judges’ salaries to make sure they are not punished for making unpopular decisions. “Whatever good motivation the Legislature may have had when enacting (the law) with its broad application to all state public employees, the framers’ message is clear,” the Court said. “The constitution forbids the reduction of a justice or judge’s take-home salary during the term of his or her appointment.”

Superior Court Judge Paul DePascale brought the challenge, saying his pension and health contributions would increase by more than five times after a seven-year phase in. The State argued health benefits and pensions are part of a total compensation package and should not be considered as salary. But the majority of the justices said the terms “salary” and “compensation” were used interchangeably by the framers of the state Constitution and every time lawmakers imposed pension requirements on judges, it included a corresponding pay raise.


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As reported by nj.com, the state’s top lawmakers said Monday they cleared a significant hurdle in efforts to overhaul public employee benefits after agreeing to a plan that shifts more medical costs onto workers while protecting future collective bargaining rights.

The spotlight now turns to Governor Chris Christie, who has been uncharacteristically

Recently, it has come to our attention that many individuals aside from Public Safety Officers utilize this website as a reference guide for the various pension systems available to individuals employed by municipalities, counties, and the New Jersey state government. As such, this entry will focus upon a few of these pension systems and help our readers understand their background, membrship, and administration.

Overview of the Various Pension Systems

Public Employees Retirement System

The State of New Jersey established the Public Employees Retirement System (“PERS”) in 1955 after repeal of the laws that created the former State Employees Retirement System. Like the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (“PFRS”), the New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits is assigned all administrative functions of the retirement system except for investment of the assets.

The PERS Board of Trustees has the responsibility for the proper operation of the retirement system. The Board consists of six (6) employee representatives, the State Treasurer, and two (2) individuals appointed by the Governor with advice and consent of the Senate. The Board meets monthly to conduct its business. 

Membership in the retirement system is generally required as a condition of employment for most employees of the State or any county, municipality, school district, or public agency. Generally, an employee is required to enroll in PERS if:

·         They are employed on a regular basis in a position covered by Social Security;

·         Their annual salary is $1,500.00 or more; and

·         They are not required to be a member of any other State or local government retirement system on the basis of the same position which gives them membership in PERS.

Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund

The Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund (“TPAF”) was established in 1919 and completely reorganized in 1955. The New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits is assigned all administrative function of the retirement system except for investment of the assets.


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