CWA Local 1036 Statement on FY16 State Budget
For the fifth year in a row, Governor Christie underfunded the state’s pension payment for the upcoming fiscal year, which will place our pension system for all public workers at risk, accumulate even more unfunded liability, and place the state’s credit at risk of a 10th downgrade.
All this despite receiving a balanced, fully funded budget from the Senate and Assembly that made the full pension payment due under the chapter 78 schedule. It is also the 2nd year in a row that the Governor vetoed a full pension payment paid by a balanced budget.
In order to make the full pension payment, the Legislature essentially accepted the majority of Governor Christie’s budget, but increased revenue through a temporary increase in corporate taxes and millionaire households. The additional revenue paid for the pension payment plus restored a cut to women’s health programs and restored a tax break for 280,000 low-income working families.
Governor Christie vetoed the Democrats’ budget.
The Senate and Assembly also passed other important bills as part of its budget sessions:
- Making quarterly pension payments instead of waiting to make a lump sum payment at the end of the fiscal year.
- Making a $300 million supplemental pension contribution based on stronger state revenues.
- A Concurrent Resolution urging the State to make the $1.3 billion pension payment for 2016 by July 15th. Making earlier pension payments during the year instead of waiting until the last day of the fiscal year would actually generate almost $90 million in investment earnings for the fund. This resolution, if passed in both houses of the legislature twice, does not require the Governor’s signature to become law.
CWA is working hand in hand with other public sector unions to evaluate the next steps in the legal and legislative strategies to compel the legislature and Governor to follow the law and fully fund our pension.
Pension and Benefits
- Appropriations for Budget 2015-2016 Bill – (S-2016/Sarlo & A-4600/Schaer) – This bill appropriates $35,347, 147,000 in State funds & $17,323,048,000 in Federal funds for the State Budget for FY2014-2015. On 6/25/15, it passed the Senate 24-16 and Assembly 47-31-0 and was forwarded to the Governor for signature. On 6/26/15, the Governor line item vetoed the bill removing the revenue generated by the millionaires’ and corporate business taxes which would have made the full pension payment.
- Adjusted FY2015 Budget Bill - (S-3101/Sarlo & A-4601/Schaer) - This bill makes fiscal year 2015 State supplemental appropriations totaling $298,649,000, reduces previously enacted appropriations by $36,956,000, and amends and supplements various language provisions affecting appropriations and revenues of the initial budget bill. On 6/25/15, S-3101 passed the Senate 40-0 and Assembly 75-0 and was sent to the Governor for signature. On 6/26/15, S-2014 was signed by the Governor.
- Corporate Business Tax Bill - (S-3102/Weinberg & A-4603/Burzichelli) - This bill imposes a 1 year 15% surcharge on corporate business tax liabilities. On 6/25/15, A-4603 passed the Assembly 44-35 and Senate 24-16 and sent to the Governor for signature. On 6/29/15, Governor Christie vetoed this bill.
- Millionaires Tax Bill - (S-2918/Sweeney & A-4602/Prieto) - This bill raises the gross income tax on taxable income exceeding $1M to 10.75% for a temporary 4 year period and restores the State earned income credit to 25% of the Federal credit amount. On 6/25/15, A-4602 passed the Assembly 47-31-1 and Senate 24-16 and was sent to the Governor for signature. On 6/29/15, the Governor conditionally vetoed the bill. The Assembly is meeting on 6/29/15 to override the conditional veto of the governor.
- Regular Pension Payments Bill - (S-3100/Gordon & A-4605/Wimberly) - The bill requires the State to pay its pension contribution quarterly on 8/1, 11/1, 2/1 & 5/1. On 6/25/15, S-3100 passed the Senate 25-15 and Assembly 52-6-16 and was sent to the Governor's desk for signature.
- Supplemental Pension Payment Bill – (S-3107/Sweeney & A-4606/Prieto) – This bill makes an FY15 supplemental State appropriations totaling $300,000,000 from budget surplus for prepayment of FY16 employer contributions to public employee pension systems. On 6/25/15, S3107 passed the Senate 29-11 and Assembly 59-9-7 and was sent to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- Early Pension Payment Resolution – (ACR-244/Prieto) – This concurrent resolution urges the Governor to make, by July 15, 2015, State pension payment of $1.3 billion for State Fiscal Year 2016. On 6/29/15, ACR-244 passed the Assembly 45-6-18. It is important to note, if this concurrent resolution passes both houses twice, it does not have to go to the Governor for signature to become law.
Public Services and Funding
- Dedicated DEP Funding Bill – (SCR-163/Smith & ACR-230/McKeon) – This bill amends the Constitution to dedicate all State moneys received through settlements or awards for legal claims based on environmental contamination solely for environmental purposes. These purposes could include preserving, repairing, or restoring natural resources. They may also include cleaning contaminated sites and underground storage tank sites, funding water quality programs, or preserving open space, farmland, or historic buildings or sites. Currently, these moneys go into the general treasury and may be used for any State purpose. This bill is on the bill list for vote in the Senate on 6/29/15.
- "Hospital Safe Staffing" Bill - (S-1183/Vitale & A-647/Moriarty) - This legislation establishes minimum staffing levels for nursing staff at hospitals, ambulatory surgery facilities and certain DHS facilities. The Local is an active participant in a coalition of other unions and patient advocacy groups fighting for this legislation. We are writing amendments to the bills to include full funding of NJDOH inspectors to ensure oversight of hospital compliance w/NJ laws and regulations, strengthen enforcement of patient safety laws and increase transparency by posting complaint inspection outcomes on the NJDOH website. S-1183 was introduced and referred to the Senate Health Committee on 1/30/14. A-647 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Health Committee on 1/16/14. We have met with various members of the committees and leadership of both houses on this bill. We are hoping for it to be posted in respective committees after the summer break.
Workplace Rules and Employee Rights
- Earned Sick Leave Bill – (A-2354/Lampitt & S-785/Weinberg) – Provides a minimum of earned sick days for all NJ workers. A-2354 was voted out of the Assembly Labor Committee on 12/15/14. The Local is partnered with the Time to Care Coalition and Working Families United for NJ, to push for this progressive legislation. Most recently we've had members fill out postcards and phone bank in support of this effort. To date, Jersey City, Newark, Trenton and Montclair have passed Earned Sick Leave Ordinances. The Coalition and WFUNJ continue to use passage of these Local Ordinances to pressure the Legislature to pass a State law. S-785 is on the board list for vote in the Senate on 6/29/15. ALSO MONITORING THE HEALTHY FAMILIES ACT – (S-631 & HR-1286)/FEDERAL LEGISLATION
Hurting US Workers with Federal Trade Legislation
- Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)/FEDERAL LEGISLATION – The TPP is NAFTA on steroids. It is a trade agreement that will be open to any country that borders on the Pacific Ocean. These countries include Japan, Vietnam and the coasts of Canada and South America. Under the current trade agreements, the US has already lost 3.4 million jobs and counting. The TPP will also destroy environmental, consumer and safety protections affecting all of our members. Sadly, on 6/24/15, the Senate followed the House and voted to support this legislation. NJ’s congressional delegation all opposed this legislation with two exceptions. Congressmen Leonard Lance and Rodney Frelinghuysen voted to fast track this trade agreement. The legislation has gone to President Obama for signature.
Created June 29, 2015