June 28, 2011
Re: League to join Governor and Legislative Leaders for signing of historic pension and health benefit reform legislation
Governor Christie is expected to sign the historic bi-partisan pension and health benefit reform legislation into law today, Tuesday, June 28th. When this is done, the Governor will be joined by the legislative leaders and sponsors who championed and guided this reform through both houses, as well as a group of Mayors who actively provided support for the process.
The League will be represented by League First Vice President Arthur Ondish Mayor of Mount Arlington, and Mayors Eldridge Hawkins of the City Orange and Wilda Diaz of Perth Amboy, Chair and Deputy Chair respectively of the League’s Management Reform Committee.
Through the lead-up to the passage of the 2% cap on local government one year ago, the League argued that the cap should be the final piece, not the center piece of reform. That is, the League called for reforms to arbitration, civil service and the pension and health systems before the implementation of the cap. In this past year, virtually every municipality has been confronted with difficult, often draconian, budget choices, forcing furloughs, service reductions and personnel reductions, even reduction to public safety services. In future years, these pension and health benefit reforms will slow the growth of personnel costs and provide some badly needed property tax relief.
Orange Mayor Eldridge Hawkins stated that “this pension and health benefit legislation is an important step toward enabling our cities to balance their budgets without layoffs and service reductions. But more remains to be done to protect taxpayers and maintain basic services. I want to thank all the Mayors who joined us in standing up for tax payers by testifying before senate and assembly committees for the fair reform we so desperately needed.”
Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz said, “We are heartened that these actions will safeguard and preserve a stable pension and health benefits system for present and future government employees and retirees.”
The League commends Governor Chris Christie, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Speaker Sheila Oliver for their leadership championing these bipartisan reforms while achieving an important balance for all the major stakeholders. The League also commends and thanks the others sponsors of the pension and health benefit reform legislation, including Assemblymen Louis Greenwald and Declan O’Scanlon and Senator Joseph Pennacchio.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.