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Buono Statement On Senate’s Passage Of ‘Public Employee Pension And Benefits Reform Act Of 2008’

TRENTON – Senator Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, who chairs the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, released the following statement today, regarding the passage (31-8) of the “Public Employee Pension and Benefits Reform Act of 2008.” The bill is aimed at reforming the State’s pension system.

“I am encouraged today by the passage of this bill. It took a lot of compromise and long hours, but I’m glad that we finally passed this legislation that will help put an end to the abuse of the State’s pension and benefits systems.

“From the initial introduction of the bills that comprise this Act, legislators from both sides of the aisle, and both houses of the Legislature have tried to find a balance between providing much needed benefits for the hard workers who really need them, and covering those with token positions who are only looking to gain pension credits.

“The bill that we just passed is a modest proposal, intended to eliminate abuses and sure up the system for years to come. Yes, this legislation could be stronger, but the reality is that change is needed now. It is imperative that we act now to help protect these benefit systems for our hard working residents.

“Abuse on any level is wrong, but to toy with the retirement of people who are working so hard now, to help make sure that they are able to enjoy their golden years is absolutely reprehensible.

“So today, I’d like to sincerely thank Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney and all of the other legislators who found this issue important enough to work on real pension reform for the people of this State.”

The Senators’ bill, S-1962, is a compilation of six bills that were initially introduced individually. The bill:

  • Raises the minimum retirement age for new hires to receive full benefits from 60 to 62.

  • Changes the eligibility criteria for new members of the TPAF and PERS from $500 and $1500, respectively, to $7,500. The $7,500 would be increased each year by the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

  • Prohibits out of state pension credit purchases from counting toward New Jersey post retirement medical benefits.

  • Allows the State to provide employees with an incentive to waive State health benefits if eligible for outside coverage.

  • Lowers the number of paid holidays for State government employees from 13 to 12, by removing Lincoln’s Birthday from the list of state holidays. This provision would take effect after the collective bargaining agreements or contracts which currently cover many Executive Branch employees expire.

  • Places in the law a requirement that local government employees work at least 20 hours per week to qualify for State health benefits.

    The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.

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