Chapter 78 relief bills introduced in Assembly and Senate

Bills to provide relief from the exorbitant payroll deductions caused by Chapter 78, have been introduced in the New Jersey General Assembly and the Senate.

A-5814 is sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. As the most powerful member of the Assembly, his sponsorship demonstrates his commitment to restoring fairness to public school employees who are suffering under the burden of Ch. 78.

Its Senate companion, S-4114, was introduced on Sept. 12. It is sponsored by Sens. Joseph Cryan, D-Union, and Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex.

The bills would reduce members’ health care costs by tying school employees’ health insurance contributions to a percentage of salary rather than to a percentage of premium. The current link to the health insurance premium has caused members to see their take-home pay decrease year after year as the rise in premiums outpaces salary increases.

In addition to lowering member contributions, these new bills provide more than $300 million in savings to state and local employers, including boards of education.

A-5814 and S-4114 replace earlier legislation that had garnered considerable support. The earlier Senate version had 10 sponsors and the Assembly bill had 34 sponsors. Because the new bills are similar in principle to those bills, but also include significant savings for the state and local employers, NJEA expects them to garner even greater legislative support in both houses. At press times, the new bills were in the process of being assigned to committees and gathering sponsors and co-sponsors.

Job Justice for ESP

In concert with Ch. 78 relief, NJEA members have continued to pressure legislators to pass legislation that would provide just-cause arbitration rights to educational support professionals (ESP) and that would prevent subcontracting of ESP positions during an active collective bargaining agreement.

A-3395, the bill to prevent subcontracting, passed the Assembly by a vote of 70-6 on May 24. A-3664, the bill to provide just case arbitration, passed by the same margin on May 23.

Now the action moves to the Senate. S-296, the Senate version of the subcontracting, has 17 sponsors and co-sponsors, while S-3089, the just-cause bill, has 18 sponsors and co-sponsors.

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