Both the State Senate and General Assembly passed the bill that would blow a hole in municipal budgets for the next four years, the “extension” of the 2% Interest Arbitration Cap for police and firefighters base salaries that did not really cap those salaries. Had the bill become law, there would have been a massive cut in municipal services throughout New Jersey or property taxes would have started rising again at levels we experienced during the Corzine/Codey/McGreevey administrations.
But Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the bill and the Senate quickly concurred with the changes he made to the bill which kept the cap intact through December 2017 by a vote of 33-1. Christie’s office announced the conditional veto and the Senate’s concurrence in the same press release.
One has to wonder why the Senate went through the exercise of passing the “bad bill” in the first place, by a vote of 28-7, only to abandon the changes it made to the existing Interest Arbitration Cap and, for the most part, extend the existing law for another four years, so quickly. Without the Senate’s concurrence to Christie’s conditional veto, the cap on arbitration awards would expire on April 1st. Either the “bad bill” or the expiration of the cap would have been a victory for the Trenton Democrats benefactors in the police and firefighters unions.
The unions may still have their victory. Before the Assembly could take a vote on concurring with Christie’s conditional veto, Speaker Vincent Prieto abruptly adjourned the session. No Assembly session has been scheduled, yet, to take up the concurrence prior to April 1.
Below is a video of Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon’s floor speak before the chamber voted on the “bad bill.” As usual, O’Scanlon makes is case and fights for New Jersey taxpayers very well.
TRENTON — A fight over renewing a law crucial to holding back an increase in property taxes is nowhere near resolved, a Republican lawmaker who has led the fight for retaining it said today. Although the Democrat-led Legislature last week began advancing…
Monmouth County Freeholder Serena DiMaso, Keansburg Deputy Mayor Jimmy Cocuzza, Congressman Frank Pallone and Senate President Steve Sweeney talk before Sweeney’s Town Hall Meeting in Keansburg. Pallone was not impressed. Click for larger view.
Senate President Steve Sweeney told MMM today that he expects a key provision of New Jersey’s 2% property tax cap that is set to expire on April 1 to be extended.
The interest arbitration provision of the property tax reforms passed with bi-partisan support three years ago caps arbitration awards in government labor disputes to 2%. Since they’ve been implemented the average arbitration award resulted in salary increases for local government employees to 1.86%–the lowest in 20 years. The provision will expire on April 1 unless extended by legislation.
“It’s my bill,” Sweeney said, “I’ll pass it next week.” Ask if the arbitration cap would become permanent or extended with another sunset provision, Sweeney said, “That’s what we’re working on now. I’d just assume we done with it, but we’ll get the best we can.”
Sweeney said that while negotiating the original property tax reforms that he favored a 0% cap. “That would force municipalities to, if not consolidate, to share, to share services.”
Sweeney spoke to MMM after his sparsely attended Town Hall Meeting at the Bayshore Senior Day Center in Keansburg this afternoon.
Task force study on arbitration reform confirms law works – and is essential
Following up on his comments last week that allowing the interest arbitration law to expire on April 1st would have disastrous consequences on towns and property taxpayers, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon will introduce legislation on Thursday that would make the law permanent.
From January 2011, when the law took effect, to September 2013, average raises in contracts, whether through arbitration or negotiations, were 1.86 percent — the lowest in at least 20 years. O’Scanlon was a member of the task force charged with studying the effects of the law since its inception and said there is no doubt the cap has been the single most significant tool responsible for the stabilization of municipal budgets.
“The data contained in the task force report is irrefutable that the interest arbitration law works and is an essential element in helping towns control costs,” said O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth. “The cap on arbitration awards was a critical part of our 2010 reforms and was the most important tool ever enacted to bring under control the never-ending, upward pressure on property taxes and the gradual strangling of local government services. One simply cannot logically argue that we can maintain a cap on property taxes without providing this tool for municipal officials to control their largest expense categories.