TRENTON – Federal workers in New Jersey whose lives were upended by the longest government shutdown in history would have some financial protections put in place under two bills sponsored by Senator Joe Cryan and Senate President Steve Sweeney that were approved by a Senate committee today.
“The President decided to shut down government in order to get his way on an ill-conceived and spiteful plan to build a border wall,” said Senator Cryan. “He backtracked by allowing government to reopen, but the threat of another shutdown still looms. We could have another closure in three weeks. We hope that does not happen, but we should be prepared. Donald Trump’s behavior is impulsive and unpredictable, and he obviously has no consideration for the hardship of federal workers.”
The bills, S-3346 and S-3347, would allow for a special grace period on property tax payments for workers affected by the federal shutdown and allow for pension loans of zero-interest, or the lowest rate allowed by law, which would help homeowners whose property tax payments are made by their banks and provide funds for other expenses. The grace period would be similar to what is allowed for natural disasters.
There are more than 20,000 employees working at federal agencies in New Jersey and more than 5,000 of them are employed by an agency without an appropriation. That number will grow over time as sources of funding run dry.
“These are working people who are having an increasingly difficult time paying their bills and they don’t know when this shutdown will end,” said Senator Sweeney. “It puts a severe strain on family finances and causes real anxiety for those who are living paycheck to paycheck. This will provide a grace period on property tax payments that could ease their pressures.”
The bills, approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, would allow taxpayers affected by a shutdown to have additional time to make payment on installments of municipal property taxes. Specifically, it would give them until the next quarterly property tax due date to make payment on any unpaid balance without accruing interest.
The companion bill would allow public employees impacted by the shutdown to get zero-interest loans against their pensions to manage their expenses, including their property taxes. Modeled after actions by some credit unions, such as Navy Federal Credit, that have set up personal loan pools for their members, the bill would aid state worker households who may have another family member impacted by the federal shutdown. It would put cash in the hands of affected employees so that they can make mortgage, credit card payments, and car loan payments until back pay becomes available in the future.