Measure Would Grandfather Current Employees
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester) requiring all future public employees to live in New Jersey received final approval today by the full Senate. It now heads to the desk of Governor Chris Christie.
“If you want to work in New Jersey and have your salary paid by the taxpayers, you’ll have to live here, too,” said Senator Norcross. “This bill will ensure that public workers live by the rules they enforce, and pay into the tax system that pays their salaries and supports their benefits.”
The “New Jersey First Act” would require all newly hired public employees to live in New Jersey or to move to the state within one year of taking a position. This means employees must establish their principal residence in the state. Current employees living over state lines would be exempt from the residency requirement.
“While I believe all public workers should be living and paying taxes in New Jersey, this bill was carefully crafted to ensure that no one experiences undue hardship,” said Senator Norcross. “This legislation would not harm public workers who currently live out of state, but it would require that, going forward, we make a concerted effort to support our own residents in their attempt to obtain employment. We have a pool of the most talented people in the country right here in New Jersey. We should have no problem getting qualified applicants for our public positions.”
The measure (S-1730) would cover all state, county and municipal employees as well as anyone working for political subdivisions of the state. Employees of public authorities, boards, agencies and commissions would also be subject to the measure. Additionally, the bill would apply to employees working within the educational system. However, it would provide some flexibility to institutions of higher education to ensure they are able to compete with similarly situated colleges and universities in other states.
Under the bill, public employees could apply to a three-member committee – with one person each appointed by the Governor, the Senate President and the Assembly Speaker – for an exemption from the residency requirement in cases involving extreme hardship or other unique circumstances.
“At a time when the job market is limited and thousands of New Jerseyans are out of work, we should be looking to give our residents here at home employment opportunities,” said Senator Norcross. “This bill is simply about putting New Jersey first – it’s about keeping our residents employed, working to keep tax dollars in the state and making the state’s economic health a priority.”
The Assembly approved the bill last week by a vote of 68-5-1 The Senate approved it by a vote of 23-10.