the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Trenton NJ, A state Senate panel quickly advanced a Democratic bill that would give some elected officials bigger pensions, pushing through a vote on Thursday in about one minute and without any debate or public testimony.
The New Jersey Pension and Health Benefits Commission has stated that there are a combined $90 billion in unfunded liabilities for future pension and retiree healthcare benefits .
The bill known as (S3620) would allow certain elected officials, such as the outgoing Camden Mayor Dana Redd, to re-enroll in the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) even if they were removed due to switching from one elected office to another.
Effectively, the bill creates a special exemption that allows Redd to cash in on a bigger public pension at a time when public workers who are not politically connected have seen cutbacks to their benefits and a freeze in yearly cost-of-living adjustments for retirees since 2011.
The legislation is moving quickly because Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), a Redd ally, has given the bill special status, allowing it to move forward without a customary review by a public body that scrutinizes the cost of pension and health benefits legislation and makes recommendations to lawmakers.
In a “hail Mary” the bill could be approved by the Assembly and Senate and signed by Gov. Chris Christie who is another Redd ally during the waning days of the lame-duck Legislature. A full vote in the Assembly and Senate could be held on the bill before the legislative session ends on Jan. 9.