July 20, 2010
RE: Senate Committee Considers Toolkit Initiatives
Yesterday in Trenton, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee began work on several bills that are meant to enact provisions of Governor Christie’s toolkit reforms. The League was present to present the municipal perspective on these bills. East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov, Third Vice President of the League was joined by Frenchtown Mayor and League Executive Board Member Ron Sworen in presenting testimony on the “toolkit” bills. Further Senate hearings are scheduled for August 12 and 16, with a Senate voting session to follow on August 23.
(L to R) William G. Dressel, Jr, NJLM Executive Director, East Windsor Mayor and League 3rd Vice President Janice Mironov,
Frenchtown Mayor and League Board Member Ron Sworen, and Lori Buckelew, League Legislative Analyst.
Mayors Mironov and Sworen urged the Committee to move beyond the proposals on yesterday’s agenda and to focus on issues like the State’s retention of Energy Tax property tax relief funding, arbitration reforms, further civil service reforms and cap considerations regarding the reserve for uncollected taxes, the costs of pre-existing labor agreements and the burden of assessment appeals.
The Committee advanced three bills yesterday, which will likely be scheduled for floor votes on August 23. The League supports all three of these bills. These bills are:
S-2012, sponsored by Senator Mike Doherty, which allows gross income tax refunds to be credited against a taxpayer’s delinquent local property taxes;
S-2072, sponsored by Senator Brian Stack, which permits publication of legal notices by governments and individuals on official government websites instead of newspaper; and
S-2208, sponsored by Senators Paul Sarlo and Diane Allen, which would allow certain non-governmental organizations to file complaints with the Council on Local Mandates.
Each of these bills was amended in committee. The amendments for these bills are not available online as of the issuance of this letter, but will be available shortly at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/
Further, three bills were “for discussion only” and can be brought back at a future hearing. These bills included:
S-2154, sponsored by Senator Steven Oroho, which replaces references to the Civil Service Commission with chairperson of commission to clarify the duties and responsibilities of the chairperson;
S-2173, sponsored by Senator Joseph Kyrillos, which limits the unused sick leave pay and vacation leave carry-forward for school and local employees; permits local unit to pay certain benefits over 10 years and limits sick leave use by public employees before retirement; and
S-2206, sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, which provides that the State or local authority in civil service may institute temporary layoff.
The Assembly has not yet released a schedule for ‘toolkit’ hearings. We have, however, reached out to several Assembly Committee Chairs, who have been asked, by Speaker Oliver, to lead the review of different issue-areas of proposed reforms. We hope to meet with those Assembly policy makers and we will keep you posted of those discussions.
Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Oliver have indicated their interest in considering reforms including, but not limited to, those incorporated in the Governor’s toolkit. In order to advance an agenda of necessary reforms, we encourage you to add to our inventory of excessive unfunded mandates and other management reforms. We will share your ideas for mandates relief and management reforms with Legislative and Administrative policy makers.
We thank Senator Sarlo for meeting with us last week in Hackensack. At that meeting, we presented the Senator with our latest list of unfunded mandates. The list (which you can access at http://www.njslom.org/mandates/Mandate-List-v1-072010.pdf) was also shared with Senate Republican and Democratic staff, prior to yesterday’s hearing.
If you have not yet done so, we ask, again, for your assistance by considering the draft resolution the League has prepared. Click here for the Draft Resolution in Support of the Toolbox and Other Reforms. Our goal is for all 566 municipalities to pass a resolution consistent with our draft. For more updates, keep checking “Governor Christie’s Toolbox News” at http://www.njslom.org/2011FY-Budget/toolbox-news.html. The above resolution is also available in WORD and PDF on this page.
For more on the toolkit package, please contact either Jon Moran at email@example.com or 609-695-3481 x121, Mike Cerra at firstname.lastname@example.org or at x120, or Lori Buckelew at email@example.com or x112.
Very Truly Yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.