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Dems moving forward with pension amendment next week

Friday, June 3, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Aidan Sander
Share | 06/03/16

Democrats will move forward next week with a controversial proposal to amend the state constitution to require quarterly payments into the pension system. The Assembly Judiciary Committee will vote on the ballot measure on Monday. The resolution (ACR109/SCR2) was already approved by both houses of the Legislature during the last session, meaning Democrats need only a simple majority to place the question on the ballot this November. 


During a fiery speech in Atlantic City, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto told the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey that he was committed to getting the proposal approved by voters in the fall.

Speaking at the union’s state convention, Prieto said public workers have been “vilified” and that some politicians view their pensions and health benefits as “low hanging fruit” that can be used to pay for other things. “It’s something you’ve worked hard for and, at the end of the day, you want to make sure it’s there,” Prieto told the union members gathered at the Resorts Casino Hotel, according to an audio recording of his remarks.


Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a South Jersey Democrat and likely gubernatorial candidate next year, said on Tuesday that he was also committed to moving forward on the pension amendment and just needed to work with Prieto on the timing. “It’s timing. It’s getting done,” he told reporters in his statehouse office. “It’s getting done. It’s getting done. I’m telling you, it’s getting done.” The governor has pushed for broad pension reforms — on the scale of what was already enacted in 2011 — but Democrats have refused to consider the proposals.


A nonpartisan pension reform commission appointed by Christie has said that $2.2 billion could be saved every year by making a series of changes to public-worker health benefits. The changes would put the public health benefits in line with what some private businesses pay, or what is offered under the Affordable Care Act gold plan. During his speech in Atlantic City, Prieto attacked those proposed changes and said they would hurt public workers. He said the Obamacare gold plan would “actually has a very high deductibles and it has a lot of money you have to pay up front.” “So that was not fair,” he said. “And then to use that money to pay for other things — that is not fair also.”


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