In its Thanksgiving week voting session, the State Legislature passed long-awaited legislation, S-2810/A-4 (Sweeney/Prieto) requiring quarterly payments to public employee pension systems during the course of the State’s budget year. The Legislature previously passed the measure, but it has been twice vetoed by Governor Christie.
Currently, New Jersey has the most underfunded pension system in the country with the state just receiving its 10th credit downgrade. As a result, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Prieto have worked hard to garner bipartisan support for this legislation to address the State underfunding of its pension obligations. In fact, Sweeney stated last week that he is “confident” Christie will sign S-2810/A-4 this time around.
Specifically, the legislation requires the State to make its required contributions to the State and public employees’ retirement systems (Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund, TPAF, Judicial Retirements System,JRS, Consolidated Police and Firemen’s Pension Fund, Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, PFRS, State Police Retirement System, and the Public Employees’ Retirement System, and the Prison Officers’ Pension Fund) in 25% increments of the annual state contribution to each system on September 30, December 31, March 31 and June 30 for each fiscal year. If signed by Christie, the legislation will go into effect on July 1, 2017 for State fiscal year 2018.
NJPSA has long supported this legislation as a positive step toward the State meeting its annual pension contributions since the State has historically made no payment toward its pension obligations until the June 30th due date, often adjusting the budgeted payment amount in response to unforeseen fiscal issues or other state priorities to the detriment of public employee pensions. This legislation will ensure that our members’ pension funds begin receiving state payments at the start of the fiscal year thereby allowing the fund to utilize more of its funding in investments to further bolster the fund.
The legislation passed, 72-0-0 in the Assembly and 35-0 in the Senate.
At this time of Thanksgiving, NJPSA thanks Senate President Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Prieto, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon for their leadership and the entire Legislature for their support on this critical issue!
In addition to pension legislation, the Legislature also moved several measures associated with students and schools. These include:
- A-1205 / S-742 (Mosquero/Beach) – Requires board of education to enter into agreement with law enforcement authorities regarding access to live video streams of public school buildings. Passed the Senate by a vote of 36-0 and returns to the Assembly to concur with Senate amendments.
- A-2158 (Diegnan) – Authorizes use of emergency reserve fund or proceeds from bonds issued by EDA to finance school security improvements. Passed the Assembly to concur with Senate amendments and is now on its way to the Governor for consideration.
- A-3396 (McKnight) – Requires financial literacy instruction to pupils enrolled in grades kindergarten through eight. Passed the Assembly by a vote of 58-10-3.
- A-4019 (Mazzeo) – Permits eligible students who are members of United States Armed Forces to wear military uniform at high school graduation. Passed the Assembly by a vote of 72-0.
Agreeing To An Essential CV
- S-86 (Bucco) – Establishes Class Three special law enforcement officers to provide security in public and nonpublic schools and county colleges. The Legislature also agreed with a recent Governor’s conditional veto that required SRO training to serve as a Class Three Officer in a school. The Senate had approved the legislation back in October by a vote of 36-0. The bill was approved by the Assembly by a vote of 72-0-0. NJPSA, in coordination with NJSBA and other groups, had successfully petitioned that the legislation require this. We were happy to see the revised legislation approved.