Pension Reform Act Fast-Tracked in NJ

James M. Davis worked for the city of Bayonne until June 30, 2014.  According to the PFRS handbook with a salary of $175,441 and over 25 years of service he should have started getting an annual pension of about $119,300 as of July 1, 2014 but, as it turns out, on July 1, 2014 he got a new job as the mayor of Bayonne at an annual salary of $72,000 which precludes him from getting his PFRS pension under a 2012 pension reform law.

As it happens this Monday S2789 “Volunteers in Public Service Pension Reform Act” put forward by Brian Stack and Nicholas Sacco (both D-Hudson) was introduced:

This bill provides that if a member of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) resigns from PFRS-covered employment to comply with common law doctrine of incompatibility of positions in order to assume an elective office not covered by PFRS with the same employer, the member’s retirement will be considered mandatory.  The member will receive a retirement allowance while in the elective office, and may receive compensation as an elected official for that elective office, notwithstanding that the elective office is with the same employer from whose employment the member retired.

Currently, PFRS will not pay a retirement allowance to a person in this situation because the former employment was, and the elective office is, with the same entity.  The bill provides that it will be effective if the qualified status of PFRS under federal law can be maintained upon its application.

The bill is consistent with the public policy of encouraging persons in public employment to seek elective office to share skills and experience because it eliminates the disincentive of the postponement of an earned PFRS pension benefit if the retiree resigns and assumes an elective office with the same employer.

The ironic part is that James Davis is already in public office so he does not need any more encouragement.  What he does apparently need is an extra $119,300.

According to an nj.com story a spokesman for Sacco said the bill was not written specifically for Davis.

“Senator Sacco’s bill is designed to ensure that public safety workers like police officers and firefighters are able to exercise their right to run for local office and represent their communities without forfeiting the benefits they have worked for during their careers,” said the spokesman, Phil Swibinski, in a statement. “The Senator has worked with the State PBA and FMBA (unions) on this legislation with a goal of encouraging more public safety officials to put their experience to use in local elected office. The bill is not intended to affect any one person, but rather to empower the public safety community in the state as a whole to continue giving back.”

And by ‘giving back’ they mean ‘taking’.

S2789, again introduced two days ago, is scheduled for a committee hearing tomorrow and could become law with the next legislative quorum and a Christie visit yet a revamp of a bankrupt pension system remains on hold as the focus of politicians continues to be on incentivizing themselves.

 

12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tough Love on March 11, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Quoting …… ” “The Senator has worked with the State PBA and FMBA (unions) on this legislation with a goal of encouraging more public safety officials to put their experience to use in local elected office. The bill is not intended to affect any one person, but rather to empower the public safety community in the state as a whole to continue giving back.””

    Or ….. the more retired, pension-collecting Public Sector workers engaged in elected positions, the more they will fight AGAINST what is in the the best interests of ALL NJ Taxpayers (NOT just Public Sector worker/retirees), and THAT is a hard freeze on ALL of NJ pension Plans for all CURRENT workers (as proposed by the NJ pension Commission), and VERY material reductions in their promised (now “Platinum+”) healthcare benefits.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Anonymous on March 11, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    This even makes me sick. Its ridiculous to not only propose this sort of thing when the pension system is failing but to fast track it is sickening. I guess TL agrees with me on this one. You dont see any fast tracking on meaningful reforms which could have helped years ago.

    Reply

  3. Posted by javagold on March 11, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Of course they want to fast track it. They know better than anyone this thing is going to collapse and they need to grab everything that isn’t nailed DOWN
    There is the enemy. Right there for all to see. That public takers in the pension ponzi pyramid should be the most pissed off. Instead they rather blame the private taxpayers. What a bunch of idiots !

    Reply

  4. Posted by Anonymous on March 11, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    How is this enforced or is it enforced selectively. There are two councilmen in Jersey City who were elected in 2013 who are retired Jersey City Police Officers collecting a PFRS pension.

    Reply

    • Posted by Anonymous on March 12, 2015 at 9:20 am

      JOHN? ? I guess no one knows the enforcement of this or the details. Anyway what is the big deal if a worker retires with a pension and is then elected to a position I think it is a fine line to say he is an employee and deny him his pension, it is not the same job he is doing which is prohibited, nor is it a PFRS position. The elected official should not be eligible for an additional pension which I don’t see him eligible for anyway. If Mayor is a PERS position his enrollment should be denied.

      Reply

      • Posted by Mike on March 12, 2015 at 10:33 am

        I disagree.

        The restriction against this sort of double-dipping (pension and salary, same employer) makes sense when the pension formula, like many of the NJ formulas, gives huge subsidies to early retirement. Actually what makes more sense is a formula that does not give those huge early retirement subsidies but I guess that’s another story.

        And by the way I wonder if this theme will become a larger issue if ever the pension reform proposal starts getting traction throughout the State. What if lots of people elect to retire early under the current formulas and then are allowed to be rehired by the same employer, or hired by the school district down the road ?

        Reply

        • Posted by Anonymous on March 12, 2015 at 11:08 am

          I disagree. He did not retire early (PFRS can retire at 25 years) he served in the Bayonne PD for 28 years and was then ELECTED mayor. I would think it would be considered double dipping if he applied for and was given a job (HIRED) with basically the same duties he did when he retired. For example Jersey City hires retired police officers to work in BCI, Radio Room and other inside jobs which were done by Police Officers in the past due to their experience that in my opinion is double dipping.

          I am of the belief that once you retire your days of public employment should be over. I feel elected office is different who is to say that because of past employment one cannot hold elective office.Look at Rich Boggiano and Frank Gajewski both former Police Officers who were elected to the city council (2013) in Jersey City both receive PFRS pensions and a salary.

          I do feel that the elective office should not have a pension attached (does it in this case who knows the answer) nor should it cause the PFRS pension to be increased OR decreased or eliminated.

          Reply

          • Posted by Tough Love on March 12, 2015 at 11:19 am

            Retired Police officers in elected positions will go out of their way to protect CURRENT police officers. Now that’s fine with respect to safety issues, but NOT when it come to their refusal to implement VERY MATERIAL CURRENT-worker pension and benefit reductions that are necessary, just, fair (AND recommended by NJ’s pension Commission).

            The financial “mugging” of Private Sector Taxpayers by the insatiably greedy Public Sector Unions/workers must end.

          • Posted by truthnolie on March 12, 2015 at 12:15 pm

            And Christie will go out of his way to protect & not call out his puppetmasters like Joe Divincenzo out for taking 2 or more pensions.

            It’s wrong….no one should be able to have more than one pension but as long as these scumbags who hold the strings refuse to take the lead and pass legislation or voluntarily (Ha!) allow themselves only one pension the system will continue to be abused, mostly by those higher up and in control of the food chain….want to start fixing the problems?….start there.

          • Posted by Tough Love on March 12, 2015 at 1:47 pm

            Truthnolie, Here I agree with you 100%. All the game-playing, favoritism, and cronyism to help friends, etc. should end, but the DIFFERENCE is the latter wrongdoing costs taxpayers a few million (or perhaps $10s of Millions), but the grossly excessive, unnecessary, unjust, unfair to Taxpayers, and unaffordable pension & benefit promises now made to ALL of NJ’s (100,000+ State & Local workers) costs Taxpayers multiple $ BILLIONS …. AT LEAST 50% of should should end …… as proposed by the NJ pension Commission.

        • Posted by Tough Love on March 12, 2015 at 11:11 am

          It’s NOT just the “early retirement subsidies”, it’s the basic formulas, so “rich” that only “Public” Sector workers can “afford” to retire in their mid (or even early) 50s.

          Public Sector pensions should be no greater than Private Sector retirement packages (pensions & retiree healthcare benefits), and while most Private Sector traditional pension Plans are frozen for purposes of accruing additional service/salary credits, Public Sector Plans are humming right along and getting richer, and richer, and richer,…. and making Private Sector taxpayers poorer, and poorer, and poorer.

          Even in the heyday of Private Sector Traditional pensions (the 1960’s and 1970’s) the BEST Corporate Plans rarely resulted in a pension of more than 50-60% of pay and then only after 35+ years when most workers were well into their 60’s.

          With Public Sector cash pay no leas than those of their Private Sector counterparts, There is ZERO justification for ANY greater Taxpayer-funded pensions and benefits than those TYPICALLY granted Private Sector workers by their employers

          The NJ Pension Commission’s proposal to FREEZE all pensions for all CURRENT workers and materially reduce healthcare benefits (from the absurdly generous “Platinum+” level they are today) is eminently justified.

          Reply

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