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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.

what's going on in Brick June 21, 2011 at 05:08 AM
In this time of "shared sacrifice" how much has Gov. Christie sacrificed? How about the legislature? I wonder why the legislature didn't include themselves in the pending bill? How come the Senate and Assembly members don't contribute anything for their pension or health benefits?
suz June 21, 2011 at 12:00 PM
GO CHRISTIE!!! NJ was dying, people. We are in a state of emergency. The NJEA is just a part of the waste in this state. I am unemployed and pay for my own health insurance, and I get a double wammy by paying for others health insurance! The free ride is over. I have contributed to my health plan and my pension plan for as long as I can remember. So should others! Oh, do you realize that the rally in Trenton was attended by teachers that took a personal day off that I paid for??!! Ridiculous. Calm down...not against the teachers. Just against the management that shovels out 6 million dollars for example on advertising that trashes Christie. How about putting that $ towards keeping some good teachers in their jobs? DUH!!
Eternal June 21, 2011 at 12:25 PM
How DARE you call NJEA a waste? Teachers work long hard hours for very little pay! They deserve all we can give them plus some! This could and most likely will push some to the breaking point money wise, but clearly you could care less for the men and women who dedicate themselves to educating YOUR children! Why take from them? Huh? Why not take from Christie and his fat cat cronies who have more money than sense! Why should those who actually struggle to do something worthwhile get bent over without benefit of lube or a kiss? The wealthy get a free ride and those who struggle pay for their tickets have to walk. I am ashamed of all that wanted this to pass, ashamed to have to be living among those that think nothing of those who do good yet think so highly of those that do nothing but harm.
mike53 June 21, 2011 at 12:54 PM
We have PART TIME council members in Brick still getting that CADILLAC health plan. How much have THEY sacrificed while many of Brick's workers took a wage freeze?????? Talk about shared sacrifice. These council people are hypocrites from top to bottom. They should learn to practice what they preach !!!
mike53 June 21, 2011 at 12:57 PM
Don't forget how the Brick PD only contributes eight tenths of one percent of their salary towards their health plan while most other township union employees contribute 1.5 percent of their salary. Where's the level playing fiels in Brick????? This was the "DEAL" negotiated by your mayor a few yrs. back with the police union.
Lori Morrison June 21, 2011 at 01:06 PM
The Mayor and Council in this town should give up their benefits and pensions. To continue to ask township employees and teachers to make concessions, they need to set the example. Why should we as taxpayers continue to pay for the health benefits of certain council members because they have a family and do not have a insurance plan of their own? What will happen when they are not re-elected, do they lose the benefits or continue to stay in the plan? Does anyone know the answer
Mr. Smith June 21, 2011 at 02:03 PM
Once again the poverty level hard working tax paying public workers are taking it up the@##. Most are at poverty level or bellow and are here for the medical benefits and the pension sure not the money. We are going to pay 6.5% a increase of 1% more ( for the FREE pension you know the one we have been paying into from the beginning. Not the towns or the state as they are required to. But us the public workers) along with a major increase in health cost. It is not the 1% but the principle Now let me explain this to you, a family ( average local public employee ) of 4 working for Brick Township or the Board of Education and most State Agency's are being paid at poverty level they can get food stamps, energy assistance , rental assistance and FREE HEALTH CARE ( better then the town provides) all provided by the state paid for by all of us. Most of us do not., Why you ask because we choose to work for these wages so we would have these be befits when we retire. SO SHAME ON OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS who one again screwed the middle class and exempted themselves from the pain. They once again did not go after the true drain on the state as other states have started to. The illegals. Drive by the apartments complexes in town. We pay there rent, medical, buy there food , educate there children. The money that could be saved by cutting them off would be a finical windfall for NJ. But once again we will do it to the workers of NJ. IMAGINE NO WORKERS
Mickey June 21, 2011 at 09:10 PM
they may make some "token" concession, but then they'd probably get another job with Toms River or the MUA. handed to them.
Mickey June 21, 2011 at 09:16 PM
then maybe you need to question this administration and ask why they signed & agreed to that contract. good luck getting a straight answer.
JB June 22, 2011 at 01:09 AM
I predict this will go full circle. This is a disaster that will fail! The downfall of the middle class, downfall of education, etc......... Watch and wait for the results over the next decade, unfortunately I have to live it as my kids are just beginning school.
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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