Joint Legislative Committee on Public Employee Benefits Reform

Assembly Democrats: Bill Cracking Down on Benefits Abuses Signed Into Law

Assembly Democrats News Release

BILL CRACKING DOWN ON BENEFITS ABUSES SIGNED INTO LAW

Measure Attacks Tacking, Boosting, Padding, Other Abuses in Effort to Reduce Tax Costs

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Nellie Pou and Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin that cracks down on abusive practices undermining the financial integrity of the state’s benefits system for public employees – like pension boosting, tacking, and padding – was signed into law today by Governor Jon S. Corzine.

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Assembly members Nellie Pou & Thomas P. Giblin

BILL CRACKING DOWN ON BENEFITS ABUSES HEADS TO GOVERNOR'S DESK
Measure Attacks Tacking, Boosting, Padding, Other Abuses in Effort to Reduce Tax Costs

(TRENTON) - The General Assembly today voted 57-16-2 to pass legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Nellie Pou and Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin that would crack down on abusive practices - like pension boosting, tacking, and padding - that undermine the financial integrity of the state's benefits system for public employees.

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Assemblywoman Nellie Pou

POU PRAISES ADMINISTRATION'S EFFORTS AT UNION NEGOTIATING TABLE

(TRENTON) - Assemblywoman Nellie Pou today praised the efforts of the Corzine administration in securing a tentative contract agreement with the state's public employee unions late last night.

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Assemblyman Reed Gusciora

GUSCIORA: SENATE CHANGES ON DUAL-OFFICE HOLDING PUT FINAL PASSAGE IN JEOPARDY

(TRENTON) - The Senate's reported attempt to change the effective date of a proposed ban on dual-office holding is a "glorified incumbency protection maneuver" that threatens the prospects of New Jersey ever having a law against dual-office holding, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora said today.

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Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose

McHOSE TO DEMOCRATS: JOIN REPUBLICANS IN SALVAGING BAN ON DUAL OFFICE-HOLDING

STILL TIME TO SAVE PROPOSAL TO END DUAL OFFICE HOLDING

Just one week after the Senate Democrats removed a provision from property tax reform legislation to curb the practice of dual office-holding, Assemblywomen Alison Littell McHose called on her Assembly colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight back.

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Assemblyman Michael Doherty

DOHERTY INTRODUCES PENSION CAP LEGISLATION TO COMBAT PENSION BOOSTING ABUSES

BILL WOULD PLACE LIMIT ON AMOUNT OF INCOME TO BE INCLUDED IN STATE PENSION CALCULATIONS

In an attempt to control excessive pension costs that are bankrupting the state pension system and driving up property taxes for New Jersey families, Assemblyman Michael Doherty today introduced legislation that would place a cap on the amount of income that can be used in calculating pension benefits.

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Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce

DeCROCE APPLAUDS WORK OF BENEFITS REFORM PANEL, LAUDS GORMLEY AND O'TOOLE CONTRIBUTION TO REPORT

ELIMINATING WASTE AND ABUSE FROM PENSION AND BENEFITS SYSTEM WILL HELP TO REDUCE PROPERTY TAX BURDEN

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LANCE: BENEFITS REFORM IS FIRST STEP TOWARD PROPERTY TAX RELIEF

Senate Republican Leader Leonard Lance, (R-23), issued the following statement today regarding plans to reform the state pension and benefits system:

I support the proposals made by the Joint Legislative Committee on Public Employee Benefits Reform to change the system and provide approximately $1.2 billion dollars in savings. This committee has made substantial progress in proposing ideas that will, if enacted, actually reduce the cost of both state and local government immediately. Indeed, I support all of the proposals put forward by Senator Gormley and Assemblyman O’Toole, whose leadership was so evident in the committee’s deliberations.

The public employee pension system must be returned to its original purpose of providing financial security in retirement for career employees. Pension abuses are a financial drain on the pension system that cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

The final reform package should eliminate the enhanced pension eligibility for elected officials, public officials or employees who currently have more than one job. Dual office holding must be eliminated immediately.

Substantial progress on property tax reform has to start with reduced spending. The Senate Republican Caucus is prepared to provide overwhelming support for the pension and benefits reforms offered by the committee.

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Senator Nicholas P. Scutari and Assemblywoman Nellie Pou

SCUTARI, POU URGE LEGISLATORS TO 'HOLD THE LINE' ON REFORMS

TRENTON - Senator Nicholas Scutari and Assemblywoman Nellie Pou, co-chairs of the Joint Legislative Committee on Public Employee Benefits Reform, today urged legislators, public employees, and interest groups alike to continue supporting the work put forth by their committee, stating that the end of the special session process does not signal and end to reform efforts.

"During our Committee's deliberations, we discovered certain areas within the State's pension and health benefits systems that were in dire need of reform," said Scutari. "While we support fair compensation for State workers, we need to put an end to excessive perks that increase the cost of government on property taxpayers."

"The recommendations that we put forth in our report will go a long way toward ending much of the abuse present in our pension and benefits systems only if we act on them," said Pou. "Now, more than ever, we need to be diligent and steadfast in our pursuit of property tax reform."

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Gormley and O'Toole Ask Governor to Save Residents From Property Tax Debacle

October 31, 2006

Honorable Jon S. Corzine
Governor of New Jersey
Executive Chambers
State House
Trenton, New Jersey 08625

Dear Governor Corzine:

We want to begin by commending you for the leadership you demonstrated in pressing to end legislative inertia on the property tax issue by calling for the current special session on property tax reform.

Regrettably, we believe your strong intervention will again be required if New Jersey residents are to get the long-promised and much needed property tax relief that you spoke of in your July 28 address to the Legislature.

You convened the special legislative session to address property taxes with a call for action – “comprehensive and transformative action� that would put the needs of the property taxpayer first. Unfortunately, your mandate for action has been effectively abandoned.

Simply put, the session has become alarmingly stagnant and there is little hope that it will produce the bold action needed to alleviate New Jersey’s oppressive property taxes. The committees’ calendar of activities so far has been a blueprint for failure; they have devoted weeks to assessing the problem, retracing the well-worn paths traveled by 20 years worth of study commissions, blue ribbon panels and task forces. Minimal time has been spent reviewing and evaluating proposed solutions, steps that are a necessary prelude to the type of action you rightly demanded.

As members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Public Employee Benefits Reform, we have developed and pushed for reforms that would reduce costs and protect the fiscal integrity of those programs, while maintaining fairness for public employees. Our proposals incorporate the recommendations made in the December 2005 report of the Benefits Review Task Force led by your former colleague Philip Murphy. Despite the fact that our committee was directed to use that report as the basis for its work, the committee did not take testimony from Mr. Murphy until last week.

We have received no assurances from the co-chairs that our proposals will get an up-or-down vote from the committee. Co-Chairman Scutari told us last week, “We’ll discuss it.� He said, "I'm not certain we'll have bills come out of this committee or potentially a task force report." As you said in July, the last thing we need is another task force report.

Several of our colleagues on the other committees are also exasperated by the lack of action. Throughout this process Republicans have put substantive proposals on the table that would result in real savings, which have been ignored by the committee co-chairs. This week, roughly two weeks before the end of the special committee process, three of the four committees are not even meeting.

In your July speech to the Legislature, you said that “if we fail to take the necessary steps to achieve sustainable relief and reform by January 1st, then I will call and press for a Citizens’ Convention to be on the ballot in 2007.� We suggest a different approach which would lead to property tax reform much sooner.

The deadline for the special committee reports is November 15. If, as we fear, those November 15 reports do not propose an aggressive action plan that would provide New Jersey’s citizens with property tax relief that will endure, we suggest you call the full Legislature back into session on December 1, and make us meet every day until the task is completed.

A Citizen’s Convention won’t produce relief until 2009 or 2010, if ever. The people of New Jersey have suffered long enough. There are already plenty of proposals before the Legislature that would address the root causes of our property tax crisis. There is only a lack of will to act. Your intervention may well be the impetus needed to produce real results.

Sincerely,

Senator William Gormley Assemblyman Kevin O’Toole

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The Back Room

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Zapped by the DNC on his way into New Hampshire this afternoon, Gov. Chris Christie defended his economic record while wooing NH voters for the second time in little more than a month, according to the Associated Press.

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"Go to Mayor [Cory] Booker and ask him if he thinks in the years that he was mayor if I ignored Newark. The fact is I've spent as much time in Newark as anyone else." - Gov. Chris Christie

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