Legislative Update June 16, 2011
Pension & Health Benefits: S-2937 (Sweeney )/A-4133 (Greenwald) . The bill was released by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee with a vote of 9 - 4. The bill goes to the full Senate Monday, June 20, 2011. The legislation, which NJEA opposed, would change TPAF and PERS to:
- Increase the employee contribution rate for members of the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF) and Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) by one percent, effective July 1, 2011.
- Add another one percent increase to the contribution rate to be phased-in over a seven year time period.
- Add a new tier to the pension systems for new members who enroll after the effective date of the legislation. This tier will increase the retirement age to age 65, and other changes in the retirement formula for new members only.
- Freeze cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA) for current and future retirees.
- Change the governance structure of each retirement system to add Taft-Hartley-like provisions - establish appointed, not elected boards, to address funding levels and future changes to the respective pension systems.
In addition, the proposed legislation would make changes impacting health benefits and collective bargaining to:
- Replace the 1.5% of salary premium sharing under P.L. 2010, c.2 (Senate Bill No. 3) with premium sharing based on the employee’s salary -- ranging from 3% to 35% of the cost of health insurance, which will be phased in over four years.
- Provide employees with the ability to reduce their premium costs by selecting a lower cost – High Deductible Health Insurance plan.
- Grandfather premium-free, post-retirement medical benefits for retirees and employees with 20 years of service credit as of the effective dae of the bill (which is immediately).
- Compel employees with less than 20 years of service credit, as of the effective date of the bill, to pay part of the premium for post-retirement medical benefits.
Sunset in 2014.
NJEA opposes this legislation.
Medically Recommended Service Animals: S-1797 (Norcross)/A-1718 (Burzichelli, Spencer, Prieto, Moriarty, Fuentes) On June 16, the Assembly Education Committee released S-1797/A-1718, which would allow a student with a disability to bring a service animal to school. The committee amended the identical bills to use the term “service animal” rather than “service dog;” provide conditions under which a school official may question the need for a service animal; allow a school official to require certification of the service animal’s health and documentation of proper licensing; and, stipulate that the school is not responsible for the service animal’s care or supervision, but that the school make reasonable accommodations. The bills now await a full vote on the Assembly floor. NJEA supports the bills.