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Senate Passes Pension and Health Care Reform Bill

Bill passed by 24-15 margin heads to state Assembly

The New Jersey State Senate approved a bill Monday afternoon aimed at increasing contributions to health benefits and pension payments by public employees by a margin of 24-15.  

The bill makes various changes to the manner in which the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF), the Judicial Retirement System (JRS), the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS), the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS), and the State Police Retirement System (SPRS) operates and to the benefit provisions of those systems, according to a news release from the Senate.

Gov. Chris Christie released a statement commending the passage of the bill:

“I am encouraged by the bipartisan Senate vote today and the continued display of support for common-sense pension and health benefits reform," Christie said. "This is a watershed moment for New Jersey, proving that the stakes are too high and the consequences all too real to stand by and do nothing. As a result of Democrats and Republicans coming together to confront the tough issues, we are providing a sustainable future for our pension and health benefit system, saving New Jersey taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and securing a fiscally responsible future for our state.”

Unions representing teachers and other public employees have been rallying supporters in Trenton for several days to oppose the measure, which now goes to the state Assembly, where passage seems likely. The legislation has been a top priority for Christie and Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester).

The bill provides for increases in the employee contribution rates to their pension funds:

from 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent, plus an additional 1 percent phased-in over seven years beginning in the first year, meaning after 12 months, after the bill’s effective date for TPAF and PERS (including legislators, Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) members, and workers compensation judges); from 3 percent to 12 percent for JRS phased-in over seven years; from 8.5 percent to 10 percent for PFRS members and members of PERS Prosecutors Part; and from 7.5 percent to 9 percent for SPRS members, according to the bill.

The bill also repeals earlier legislation that provides a member of PERS or PFRS the ability to retire while holding an elective public office covered by PERS or PFRS, while continuing to receive the full salary for that office.

The bill states that the automatic cost-of-living adjustment will no longer be provided to current and future retirees and beneficiaries.

As for health benefits reform, the bill requires all public employees and certain public retirees to contribute toward the cost of health care benefits coverage based upon a percentage of the cost of coverage. Under the bill, all active public employees will pay a percentage of the cost of health care benefits coverage for themselves and any dependents, according to the Senate news release. Lower compensated employees will pay a smaller percentage and more highly compensated employees will pay a higher percentage. The rates will gradually increase based on an employee’s compensation, at intervals of $5,000. 

Click here for more information on Senate bill S-2937.

JB June 22, 2011 at 01:15 AM
Here is an interesting link. ALthough NJ has one of the highest average salaries for teachers in the country, the "comfort index" in New Jersey that the site rates for teachers based on salary is at 36 out of 50. Obviously, everything is relative to the costs of living in that state. And now with this horrendous bill about to be passed and signed who are we going to keep and get to lead and teach the children of our future? http://teacherportal.com/teacher-salaries-by-state
Tired of the BS June 22, 2011 at 01:49 AM
Oh my...suck it up already. We all are paying for the illegals (which irritates the sh$# out of me), & we all pay for your benefits. Contributing less than 10% of your salaries towards your own health care & pension is pennies compared to what the non public workers pay for their benefits. That's if they can even afford to pay for it!!!! It is not wrong for the taxpayers to ask for some relief. So Mr. Smith & Eternal, it sounds to me like you just don't want to help the public get through this difficult economic time. You seem more concerned & annoyed that you will have pay anything. A 1.5% contribution just isn't enough to cover your sense of entitlement. Politics is a vicious game of greed no matter how you look at it. Instead of dividing those of us who pay your decent salaries, healthcare, pensions, etc..... work with us & stop your whining.
Tired of the BS June 22, 2011 at 02:00 AM
Read this story, this is what the non-public workers have to do in order to receive healthcare. The very thing you people seem to take for granted!!! http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110621/ts_yblog_thelookout/man-robs-bank-to-get-medical-care-in-jail
mike53 June 22, 2011 at 01:56 PM
That 1.5 percent contribution is the biggest joke ever put forth by Trenton. They are still paying peanuts for their "Cadillac" medical coverage and keep crying about their TINY contribution they have to pay. They should be paying 20 to 30 percent of that cost like evryone else in the PRIVATE SECTOR!!!!!!!! Get in the REAL WORLD folks.......
CShorShell June 22, 2011 at 05:30 PM
Thank you Sue! Eternal....cry me a river and build the bridge. You don't work long hours. Everyone has a tough job one way or another. My NORMAL work day is 9 hrs. not including my commute, in which I typically work overtime....that I DON"T get paid for. I pay for 100% my health insurance and I am blessed that my company matches my retirement contribution up to 5%...b/c this is unheard of anymore. I don't get raises that are locked into a contract. If business is decent, I get a 2% raise. If it's bad, I get NOTHING! Personally, I am blessed to have a job. I am really lucky to get 3 weeks of paid vacation...again, very unheard of in my industry. You work 9 months out of the year, during which you get a minimum of 3 weeks of paid time off. Because you work 3/4 of a year in comparison to everyone else, you collect 3/4 of a salary. You want more money to fill in for those 3 months you don't work.....GET ANOTHER JOB! I am so sick of hearing "woe is me." Get over yourselves. You're job isn't easy....but neither is most peoples. Teachers (not necessarily all, but most) live in fantasy land, totally out of touch with reality!

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