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.”

The pair acknowledged that many of the interest groups potentially affected by these recommended changes have already begun decrying the process and proposals as unfair, lobbying legislators to water-down or ignore specific reforms. Scutari and Pou urged their fellow legislators to remain committed to the reform efforts of the special session.

“We took a measured, balanced approach to this daunting problem and our recommendations benefited for that approach,” said Pou. “None of these proposals taken alone – or as part of the whole – are particularly onerous or unfair. To change or abandon them now would do a great disservice to the special session process. For the sake of millions of New Jersey property taxpayers, we must hold the line and push these recommendations forward together to achieve real and lasting reform.”

“If we do not act on these reforms to reign in runaway benefits, any other savings we see on property tax reform will be for naught,” said Scutari. “The reforms we’re seeking would only apply to prospective employees and would help us craft a fairer benefits package for State workers through attrition. While we’re holding current State workers harmless for the mistakes of the past, we’re doing what needs to be done to address potential abuse of benefits in the future.”

Scutari and Pou said they will continue to work with their respective houses to draft legislation based on these proposals, where appropriate, and will work with the leadership of their respective houses to pass the bulk of this legislation by the end of the year.