On Monday, the Senate and Assembly held late afternoon voting sessions. Both houses ultimately passed ( and the Governor subsequently signed ) a controversial pension deferrment plan. Actually, it’s not so controversial now that a deal has been reached.
Last year, Corzine proposed that local governments be allowed to pay only a portion of their pension obligations for three years. The idea was to avoid a property tax increase in these tough fiscal times. Well, the unions ( particularly those representing local police and firefighters ) went ballistic. They claim the payments need to be made into a system that is already grossly underfunded, and more than likely lost money in the market due to the “slow motion crash” we have witnessed over the last 9 months. Other fanncy terms I like to use for the market’s losses are “unprecedented market dislocation” and “unforseen volitility.” But i digress.
Anyway, the PBA fought this thing tooth and nail. Senate majority Leader Steve Sweeney agreed with them and voted against the pension deferral bill which failed in the Senate last year. As did Sen. Fred Madden ( once a cop, always a cop ).
Amendments were made, but Senate President Dick Codey still didn’t have the votes. That is until late last week when a new deal was cut amongst a representative for the Governor, Codey, Sweeney, Essex County Exceutive Joe DiVincenzo and Sen. Nick Scutari.
The new plan calls for only a one year deferral, and not all towns are required to do it. This time towns must make their case to skip payments to the Local Finance Board within the Department of Community Affairs which will decide for them on a case by case basis.
All interested parties agreed they could live with this deal, although the PBA was still unhappy. Pension deferral passed the Senate 21-17 and the Assembly 42-36. Republicans were united against this legislation, which made each Democratic vote that much more critical. In the end Democratic Senators Jeff Van Drew and Shirley Turner still voted against it.