The proposal is part of the so-called “Path to Progress” reforms Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, has championed since 2018 as a means to cut taxes.
Other proposals call for reducing public worker health benefits – as was done with school employee health plans – and merge local government services, which proponents say will also cut costs.
Under what Sweeney first proposed, known as a hybrid pension plan, the first $40,000 of a new public worker’s retirement package would go toward a defined pension plan, while anything above that would go to a 401k-like retirement package.
Sweeney, who lost his reelection to Republican Ed Durr – a longtime truck driver – told reporters at a Nov. 30 event hosted by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association that he’d like to push the pension reform through before the new state Legislature is sworn into office.
“I want to get it done,” he told reporters at the Nov. 30 event in Woodbridge. “I don’t know if we can get it done right now, but I can tell you we’re getting to a pretty good place where it’s going to be hard for people to argue against it.”
Sweeney said he was confident that the plan could still reach Murphy’s desk while the outgoing senator is still in office.
The reforms arose because of the state’s unfunded public worker pension system, which has been short tens of billions of dollars and dragged down New Jersey’s credit rating a combined 11 times in the past decade. This past year was only the first time since the 1990s that the state met its full actuarially recommended pension payment into the fund – $6.9 billion.
The office of Gov. Phil Murphy – who has opposed many of the proposals – could not be reached for comment.
Some of Murphy’s staunchest allies are those who would be the most affected by the proposals, like the state’s largest public worker unions, some of which spent heavily in support of Murphy’s campaigns.
A spokesperson for Sweeney’s counterpart in the state Assembly – Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District – said Coughlin “is familiar with the proposal and is conducting a thorough and thoughtful review.” [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]