New Jersey would make it harder for public employees who commit crimes to collect their pensions under a bill legislators are fast-tracking through the state Assembly.
The proposed reforms to the state’s pension law were recommended without discussion Thursday, Sept. 29, by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, just one week after they were introduced. That allows the measure to move to the Assembly floor for a vote expected on Monday.
The legislation would tighten the criteria under which pension boards decide whether former government workers convicted of on-the-job misconduct should lose some or all of their pensions. It would also expand the list of offenses that automatically disqualify public employees from receiving those benefits.
That change would take more pension decisions out of the hands of the state’s retirement boards, which are often reluctant to strip officials of their full pensions, under a process in which they weigh offenders’ misconduct against the good they did throughout their careers. The proposal would also revamp how boards consider those factors, making it easier for them to refuse to grant benefits.
To become law, the bill would have to pass the Assembly and Senate and be signed by Gov. Phil Murphy. So far, no Senate version has been introduced, and its potential fate in the upper chamber remains unclear.
Author(s): Riley Yates, NJ.com
Publication Date: 30 Sept 2022
Publication Site: Governing
A war of words between New York and New Jersey legislators over red light cameras could prove costly to commuters who could be slapped with hefty fees to travel between New York City and the Garden State.
New York lawmakers want to slap Jersey drivers with a $50 “non-cooperation fee” when they drive into New York City, in response to a bill that would bar the state Motor Vehicle Commission from helping New York enforce red light and speed camera tickets against Garden State drivers.
If passed by New York State’s senate and assembly, that charge would be on top of the $16 cash toll to cross the Hudson into Manhattan, and could be added to proposed congestion pricing fees for driving south of 60th Street, that might take effect in 2024.
O’Scanlon reiterated his long standing opposition to automated enforcement, citing his analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety administration statistics that showed red light camera and other automated enforcement did not translate in to lower death rates in states that had them.
“There is no correlation to safety benefits. Every unbiased assessment showed no benefit,” he said. “It’s a demonstrable fact that automated enforcement and red light camera systems don’t improve safety.”
Author(s): Larry Higgs
Publication Date: 1 Oct 2022
Publication Site: NJ.com
A six-year old income tax reform bill accomplished something remarkable in Trenton on Monday: It got Democratic and Republican lawmakers to agree on changing your tax policy.
The state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved a Republican-backed measure, S676, that’s supposed to provide relief to New Jersey workers struggling to make ends meet amid the highest inflation levels in 40 years.
The concept is simple: If inflation goes up, so would New Jersey’s income tax brackets. For many, it would mean not having to pay higher taxes if salaries go up the rate of inflation.
New Jersey uses a graduated income tax, which means residents shell out a larger percentage of earnings to the state as their incomes rise into higher tax brackets. When inflation pushes wages higher, it can often result in a net loss to workers that are pushed into higher brackets.
Author(s): Derek Hall
Publication Date: 2 Mar 2022
Publication Site: nj.com
The very notable exception is New Jersey’s Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF), which is by far the single-worst public pension in the Brookings study. TPAF is New Jersey’s largest public pension fund and covers all active and retired teachers. New Jersey’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), the pension plan for state and municipal workers, is second-worst but not nearly in the dire predicament of TPAF.
This is what Brookings had to say about TPAF: Under any of their investment return scenarios, TPAF is in “near-term trouble” — meaning near-term insolvency. Brookings projects that TPAF will run out of assets in 12-to-15 years, at which point the $4.5 billion-plus in benefits payments will have to be made from the New Jersey’s perpetually strained state budget. This would be a fiscal disaster for New Jersey and a retirement crisis for TPAF’s 262,000 beneficiaries.
Author(s): Mike Lilley
Publication Date: 5 May 2021
Publication Site: NJ.com
Associated Press requests last year for written and electronic communications among officials about the coronavirus were denied as “overbroad,” a kind of catch-all under the state’s Open Public Records Act that permits officials to shield certain information.
The administration also cited emails among the governor’s staff as privileged under the law because they were “inter-agency” and “consultative or deliberative,” additional carve-outs that prevent the release of documents under the law.
The administration also denied public records requests seeking payment vouchers for personal protective equipment it bought, saying it would be disruptive. Asked about it late last year, Murphy said he wasn’t sure why the information was withheld and soon afterward, the state divulged a list of expenditures showing about $220 million in expenses.
Author(s): Associated Press
Publication Date: 14 March 2021
Publication Site: nj.com