Toolkit for Municipal/County Governments and Local School Districts
The following is a listing of Governor Christie’s recommended legislative bills which comprise the administration’s “tool kit” for reducing the costs and expenditures of county and municipal governments in New Jersey. The listed legislative measures are accompanied by a brief summary and organized by topic or issue area.
Caps on State Spending and Local Property Taxes and Reforms to Tax Law
School Reforms for Reductions in Cost
Local Government Reform/Shared Services
Civil Service Reforms
Local Election Reforms
I.Caps on State Spending and Local Property Taxes and Reforms to Tax Law
1. S-29 (Sweeney, McKeon, Barnes, Burzichelli, Wisniewski, Van Drew, Madden, Whelan, O’Toole, Kyrillos, Moriarty) / A-3065 (McKeon, Barnes, Burzichelli, Wisniewski): The enacted legislation calls for a property tax cap of 2 percent that is statutorily-based and not a State Constitutional provision. There shall be four main exemptions to the statutory cap: rising health care costs, debt service payments, pension payments and capital expenditures for various public works projects. And finally, the measure will also permit “banking” of unused increases for three successive years.
This legislation initially set a 2.9 percent cap on any property tax levy increase and would allow unused increases to be “banked” for three years. The bill was substituted for its Assembly counterpart, A-3065, and passed both chambers. However, the legislation was met by a conditional veto by Governor Christie along with his recommendations for how to improve the legislation to better serve its objective of reducing and controlling the costs of government in New Jersey. Subsequently, the Governor and legislative leaders came to a legislative compromise on this 2 percent cap, which received final passage in the legislature on July 12, 2010 and was signed into law by the Governor on July 13, 2010.
2. SCR-103 (Oroho, Allen) / ACR-130 (O’Scanlon, DiCicco): This legislation entails a State Constitutional amendment which would impose a 2.5 percent cap on increases in state government spending and appropriations from the previous year. The cap, however, will not be applicable to the following increases in State spending: state aid to counties, municipalities and school districts; spending of federal funds; State government contributions to pension systems required by the State Constitution; debt service payments for voter-approved State bonds and appropriation contract bonds; and finally, appropriations from the Property Tax Relief Fund, such as Homestead Rebates.
SCR-103 was introduced and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on May 20, 2010. ACR-130 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Budget Committee on May 20, 2010 and subject to a successful motion to table the legislation in committee on June 21, 2010.
3. ACR-139 (O’Scanlon, DiCicco): This bill provides for State Constitutional amendment to establish a 2.0 percent cap on annual appropriations increases for certain State government spending. The legislation was proposed for introduction on July 12, 2010; we are awaiting a draft of the bill.
4. S-2202 (Oroho) / A-3153 (O’Scanlon, DiCicco): The legislation would establish a 2.0 percent cap on increases in state spending and appropriations. The cap will presumably be subject to certain exceptions mentioned above. The bill was proposed for introduction in the Senate on July 8, 2010 and in the Assembly on July 12, 2010. We are awaiting a draft of the bill to review.
5. S-2012 (Doherty) / A-2958 (Bucco, McHose): This piece of legislation will afford municipalities and local governments the ability to credit a taxpayer’s gross income tax refund against his/her own delinquent property tax liabilities. Municipal tax collectors already have the ability to credit homestead rebate payments against delinquent property taxes; this bill just simply extends that authority to State income tax refunds as well. This bill would provide municipalities with the ability to collect these delinquent property tax liabilities right away without waiting for the taxpayer to receive said refund and turn it over to the municipal taxing authority. By permitting such an automatic credit against property taxes owed, municipalities will not have to incur the costs and time of attempting to collect these tax revenues from the delinquent taxpayer. S-2012 was introduced and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on June 3, 2010. A-2958 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on June 17, 2010.
II. Arbitration Reforms:
6. S-2171 (Doherty) / A-3075 (Chiusano): This legislative measure would implement tool kit recommendations regarding public employer/employee arbitration. Many of the provisions would also be applicable to arbitration between local government entities and police/firefighter unions. The bill seeks to amend the public-employee arbitration process in numerous ways. (1) First, the bill reforms the procedures for selecting arbitrators in resolving union contract disputes when negotiations hit an impasse. Pursuant to the bill’s recommendation, the Public Employee Relations Commission shall select three arbitrators from its special panel of arbitrators and present them to the disputants for their consideration of the candidates. If the parties cannot agree on one arbitrator from the list within 10 days, the Commission shall select the arbitrator by lot. (2) The legislation also imposes a hard 2.5 percent cap on arbitration awards and collective bargaining agreements by prohibiting any arbitrator or mediator from awarding any settlement that would exceed the total amount spent by the public employer on “economic issues” for its members in the preceding employment year by a sum greater than 2.5 percent. “Economic issues” are defined as: “wages, salaries, hours in relation to earnings, and other forms of compensation, such as paid vacation, paid holidays, health and medical insurance, and other economic benefits accruing to the employees represented by the affected employee organization.” (3) Furthermore, the bill also charges that no public employer can execute any agreement on economic issues that exceed the 2.5 percent cap. (4) Finally, the bill mandates that arbitrators must consider the impact of awards and union contracts based upon the following: the effect on local property taxes, the spending restrictions imposed by the cap, a comparison of public and private sector wages, benefits and terms of employment, financial impact, cost of living and the general public interest and welfare etc.
Amending the manner in which arbitrators are chosen eliminates administrative delays and prevents the selection of “old union favorites” who can render excessive rewards and decisions. Imposing the 2.5 percent cap would prevent arbitrators from rendering decisions and awards or employers from granting contracts that could essentially bankrupt municipalities and act as unfunded mandates to be ultimately paid by taxpayers. Finally, requiring arbitrators to consider the impacts of awards and contracts on the local economy, tax rates, and public welfare etc. would serve to prevent the rendering of excessive awards that could impair economic vitality and usher in further tax increases.
S-2171 was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee on July 1, 2010. A-3075 was introduced and referred to the Assembly State Government Committee on June 28, 2010.
7. S-1789 (Cardinale): The bill would make changes to the arbitration procedures utilized in disputes between local government entities and police/firefighters unions to promote equity and the interests of taxpayers. The bill provides that such arbitration shall be undertaken by one arbitrator selected from a special panel of arbitrators. Said panel shall be comprised of 25 arbitrators to be nominated by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. Parties will not be able to pick the arbitrator considering the dispute. Under current law, some matters are considered by a panel of arbitrators; pursuant to the bill, each case or matter will only be heard by one arbitrator. The aforementioned arbitrators will have three-year terms and will be assigned cases on a rotating basis. They will not be eligible to participate in the State pension plan or health benefits plan.
Current law provides that arbitrators must consider compensation awarded to similarly situated employees. Pursuant to this legislation, the arbitrators shall be prohibited from considering the wages, salary, or any other compensation received by employees of another public or private agency who are engaged in similar employment. Under the bill, arbitrators must give special weight to considering the financial impact on the local taxpayers and local government entity.
The changes to the procedures involved in the selection of the arbitrator shall reduce costs (legal and professional services costs), eliminate expensive and burdensome delays, and prevent the selection of favorites on both sides of negotiations by eliminating the haggling and negotiations involved in selecting the arbitrator. Furthermore, many local officials have suggested that the requirement upon arbitrators in considering similarly-situated employee compensation raises costs by forcing localities to keep up with one another in salaries across the board. And finally, arbitrators giving special consideration to the fiscal impact of awards on taxpayers and the municipalities/counties involved, will only lead to more positive results in controlling the costs of local government.
S-1789 was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee on March 15, 2010.
III. School Reforms for Reductions in Cost:
8. S-2043 (Kyrillos) / A-2960 (DiMaio, Handlin): (1) The bill would reinstate a school board’s ability to impose and enforce its last best contract offer in resolving a negotiation impasse by repealing section 3 of the "School Employees Contract Resolution and Equity Act," P.L.2003, c.126 (C.34:13A-31 et seq.). The law, as it currently stands, provides that in the event of a major impasse in negotiations for a school employee contract, the parties are required to work with a fact-finder who will issue a report for the parties to continue their negotiations. If this does not lead to mutual agreement, the parties are to engage in utilizing a super conciliator in resolving the dispute. Furthermore, a school employer is prohibited from unilaterally imposing, changing or deleting any terms and conditions of employment, without the agreement of employee representatives. Under the bill, if mutual agreement cannot be achieved, school boards will be empowered with the ability to impose and hold the employee to its last/best contract offer during negotiations; and that offer shall provide the governing terms of the agreement or employment contract. This portion of the legislation is aimed at providing school boards with more leverage in negotiations with school employees in order to cut back on costs and spending.
(2) The bill also requires that the selection of any fact finder or super conciliator be solely undertaken by the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission (without any participation by the parties) in the event of a failure to reach agreement, between the employer and employee representatives, on any negotiated terms of employment contracts. This measure is another provision aimed at keeping spending down by not allowing either party to usurp the bargaining process and cause administrative delay in selecting its own mediator.
(3) Finally, the bill prohibits any fact finder or super conciliator from issuing any report recommending an agreement, which exceeds a total of 2.5% on economic issues including wages, salaries, paid holidays, and other economic benefits to employees.
S-2043 was introduced and referred to the Senate Labor Committee on June 10, 2010. A-2960 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee on June 17, 2010.
9. S-2027 (Kean, T.) / A-2962 (Munoz, N.): The bill provides that mediators selected by the Public Employment Relations Commission, to assist with resolving employee contract disputes within public institutions of higher education, must consider the following factors: the impact of any reduction in funding; the potential impact of a recommended settlement on tuition costs; and the cost of benefits already provided to employees. By requiring these mediators or conflict resolution specialists to consider the factors of employee benefits, tuition costs and reductions in funding when resolving these contract impasses, they will not be as eager to issue reports or findings that would be both highly favorable to employees and costly to the local government entity involved.
S-2027 was introduced and referred to the Senate Education Committee on June 3, 2010. A-2962 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee on June 17, 2010.
10. S-2172 (Bateman) / A-2964 (Webber, Munoz, N.): This bill provides that a State college or university may establish and utilize a probationary period that is consistent with the needs of the college and must be completed in order to qualify for tenure. Under current law, a faculty member of a State college qualifies for tenure after employment for five consecutive calendar years; or five consecutive academic years, with employment at the beginning of the next academic year; or with the equivalent of more than five academic years within a period of six consecutive academic years. This measure would provide State colleges and universities with increased flexibility in terms of their hiring needs. As a result, these institutions will not be forced to grant a faculty member tenure if the college or university has no intention of having this employee for a period greater than a probationary period. This change in the employment/tenure practices of college or university faculty members is quite novel for this State and should result in savings.
S-2172 was introduced and referred to the Senate Education Committee on July 1, 2010. A-2964 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Higher Education Committee on June 17, 2010.
IV. Pension/Benefits Reform:
11. S-4 (O'Toole, Buono, DeCroce, Oliver) / A-2459 (DeCroce, Oliver): This legislation caps the sick leave and vacation carry over time of current public employees. Currently, public employees, at the local level, are permitted to carry over unlimited time. The legislation makes the following changes to current law:
(1) Supplemental compensation for accumulated unused sick leave payable to any local government or school district officer or employee cannot exceed $15,000 and can only be paid at retirement. Current law already provides such a cap on State employees; this legislation would extend it to local government or school district employees.
(2) The measure also provides that unused vacation leave may only be carried forward for one successive year by employees and officers of local governments and school districts. Current law only provides such a limitation for State employees.
(3) The legislation eliminates the sick leave injury program for State employees who are injured or who become ill directly as a result of State employment after the bill’s effective date or after the expiration of current collective negotiations agreements.
(4) The bill phases out accidental and ordinary disability retirement for members of the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF) and Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) who are enrolled on or after this bill’s effective date. Alternatively, those affected will be eligible for disability insurance coverage similar to that provided by the State to those participating in its defined contribution retirement program.
These reforms stem from the cost-saving recommendations found in the December 2006 final report of the Joint Legislative Committee on Public Employee Benefits Reform.
S-4 was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee on February 8, 2010. After passing the State Senate, the Senate bill was substituted for its Assembly counterpart, A-2459. The legislation passed the Assembly and was signed into law by the Governor on March 22, 2010 as P.L.2010, c.3.
12. S-2100 (Sweeney) / A-2499 (Moriarty, Barnes, Addiego, Vainieri Huttle, Greenstein): Pursuant to this legislation, employees of non-governmental groups will no longer have the opportunity to participate in public employee pension systems administered by the State; the bills eliminate the employees’ eligibility for participation. Currently, employees of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Association of Counties, and the New Jersey School Boards Association have the ability to participate in State-administered pension benefit programs. This bill eliminates the eligibility of these employees in addition to that of employees with less than 5 years of service credit based upon their employment with the aforementioned organizations. Eliminating the eligibility of countless participants, who should not even be included in the program at all, will serve to save the State and local governments a substantial sum of money.
S-2100 was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee on June 24, 2010. A-2499 was introduced and referred to the Assembly State Government Committee on March 11, 2010. It was then transferred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee and reported out of that committee, under second reading, on March 18, 2010. On May 14, 2010, the Pension and Health Benefits Review Commission reviewed and recommended to enact the amended version.
13. S-2173 (Kyrillos) / A-2952 (Casagrande, Munoz, N.): The bill imposes on all employees of boards of education and local governments the limit of $15,000 on supplemental compensation at retirement for unused and accumulated sick leave. Furthermore, it also limits the period to carry forward vacation leave to one successive year. Currently, State law only places these limitations on officers and employees commencing service with an individual employer on or after May 21, 2010 and for certain high-level officers and employees who were in service on June 8, 2007. The legislation would mandate such limitations upon all employees of local governments or boards of education. S-2173 or A-2952 also imposes limits on the use of sick leave by a State, local government, or board of education employee in the twelve months before retirement.
S-2173 was introduced and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on July 1, 2010. A-2952 was introduced and referred to the Assembly State Government Committee on June 17, 2010.
14. S-2067 (Kean, T.) / A-2965 (DiMaio): The legislation provides that two or more State colleges or universities may form a risk management group and participate in joint liability funds and risk management programs. The colleges will be authorized to provide joint liability funds funded through the contributions of its members and purchase insurance under a master policy for property damage, liability, and workers’ compensation coverage. A State college or university may elect to participate in such a group upon a resolution by its board of trustees. In accordance with the bill, the State college risk management group must establish by-laws to provide for operations, governance and claims procedures. Such a risk management group may not begin functioning until its bylaws have been approved by the State Treasurer. A group must file an annual report with the State Treasurer who may require the group to either increase its reserves or purchase additional excess insurance or reinsurance in the event that it is determined that the group has incurred financial losses or liabilities which impair its ability to pay claims.
Currently, the State Treasurer’s Division of Risk Management in the Department of the Treasury administers insurance coverage programs for State colleges. This bill would amend the law to afford State colleges the ability or option to form their own risk management groups and joint liability funds to provide coverage. Handing the administrative and compliance responsibilities to the State colleges themselves will reduce the number of hours and personnel needed by the State to undertake audit, compliance and administrative review activities over these groups and funds.
S-2067 was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee on June 21, 2010. A-2965 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee on June 17, 2010.
15. S-1998 (Ruiz): This is another bill in the State Senate which is a similar legislative measure to the preceding bill. The only difference is that S-1998 lacks section 8 of S-2067, which was a technical addition requested by the Governor’s Office. S-1998 was introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee on May 27, 2010.
V. Local Government Reform/Shared Services:
16. S-2024 (Kyrillos): This bill amends sections 11 and 19 of the "Uniform Shared Services and Consolidation Act," N.J.S.A..40A:65-11 and N.J.S.A..40A:65-19, concerning the establishment of an employment reconciliation plan when municipalities or localities engage in a joint meeting or shared service agreement that will provide a service that one is currently providing itself through local government employees. Pursuant to current State law, when there is an agreement for shared services, the localities involved must prepare an employment reconciliation plan to account for each unit’s public employees. These reconciliation plans can be quite burdensome in light of all the statutory requirements and hurdles they must meet pursuant to State law.
This legislation would permit a local unit that has adopted Title 11A, Civil Service, to substitute a layoff plan for the employee reconciliation plan if a number of requirements are met, such as: providing terminal leave payments to those employees who are terminated due to economic or efficiency reasons; and accounting for which employees will be transferred or terminated under such a shared services agreement. The bill effectively eliminates certain civil service protections, such as a buy-out of union contracts, when services are shared among units of local government.
The bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on June 3, 2010.
17. S-2025 (Kyrillos) / A-2961 (Casagrande, Handlin): The bill provides that executive county superintendents of schools must require collaboration among school districts in facilitating further shared services among school districts within and outside the county. The bill also allows the executive county superintendent to require a district to enter into a shared services arrangement with another district or local government entity within that county for the provision of administrative, business, purchasing, transportation, or other school district services, if the arrangement will result in a reduction of costs. Pursuant to the legislation at issue, executive county superintendents would be required to review and approve all collective bargaining agreements in school districts within their respective counties, utilizing standards promulgated by the Commissioner of Education, such as a minimum number of work days per week for school district employees. Finally, the executive county superintendent may not approve a collective bargaining agreement if it would cause the school district to exceed its tax levy growth limitation or prevent the subcontracting of school district services. Requiring shared service agreements along with imposing strict standards on union and superintendent contracts will lead to greater savings at the municipal level and thus, yield smaller or controlled tax levies.
S-2025 was introduced and referred to the Senate Education Committee on June 3, 2010. Its assembly counterpart, A-2961, was introduced and referred to the Assembly Education Committee on June 17, 2010.
18. S-2045 (Allen) / A-2959 (Rumana, Webber): This bill would allow the New Jersey Conference of Mayors, the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Association of Counties, the Garden State Coalition of Schools, or a similar organization that represents the interests of counties, municipalities, or local boards of education to file a complaint with the Council on Local Mandates regarding a prospective unfunded mandate. The Council on Local Mandates is a bipartisan body that is independent of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of State government. It was created pursuant to a State Constitutional Amendment and enabling statute in1996 and its members are appointed by the Governor, Senate President, Assembly Speaker, Senate Minority Leader, Assembly Minority Leader and the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Council has the exclusive constitutional authority to rule that a State law or regulation imposes an unconstitutional "unfunded mandate" upon counties, municipalities, or boards of education. If such a legislative or regulatory measure is found to be an “unfunded mandate,” it will no longer be effective.
Under current law, only the governing body or elected “chief executive” of a county/municipality or a local board of education may file a complaint with the Council. Therefore, the current system is too costly for a single locality to challenge such a mandate alone. This legislative measure addresses this jurisdictional concern.
S-2045 was introduced and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on June 21, 2010. A-2959 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee on June 17, 2010.
19. A-2373 (Rumana): This bill is essentially identical to the previously mentioned bill with one exception: the listing of organizations that are able to file complaints with the Council on Local Mandates is more limited and not as expansive as found in the bill discussed just above, S-2045/A-2959. A-2373 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee on March 4, 2010.
20. S-2208 (Sarlo): This shall be another bill which calls for affording more organizations the authority to file complaints with the Council on Local Mandates. This bill is pending introduction and referral; we are awaiting a draft.
21. SCR-62 (Allen) / ACR-32 (Rumana): This bill proposes a State Constitutional Amendment to enable the Council on Local Mandates to consider all State statutes and regulations, without regard to a dispute at all, in determining whether they may constitute unfunded mandates, which will be deemed unenforceable. This measure would allow the Council to review State laws that can be deemed unfunded mandates without requiring an actual dispute over the matter at issue. SCR-62 was introduced and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on February 4, 2010. ACR-32 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee on January 12, 2010.
22. SCR-35 (Haines) / ACR-67 (Rudder, Addiego): This piece of legislation proposes a State Constitutional amendment to expand the authority of the Council on Local Mandates to review existing laws and even proposed legislation, without regard to a dispute. SCR-35 was introduced and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on January 12, 2010. ACR-67 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee on January 12, 2010.
VI. Civil Service Reforms:
23. S-2140 (Singer) / A-3010 (Malone): This legislation increases the fee for each application for Civil Service open competitive and promotional examinations, from $15 to $25. However, such a fee schedule does not apply to law enforcement officer and firefighter examinations. The fee for veterans will remain at $15 and those receiving public assistance are not required to pay the fee. Additionally, this bill requires the $25 examination fee for non-public safety examinations to be reviewed every five years beginning July 1. Finally, the bill calls for a $20 fee for each appeal filed concerning discipline or termination of employment actions, adverse actions regarding the examination process, and discharge determinations; but veterans and those receiving public assistance would not be required to pay this fee. The new or increase in fees resulting from this legislation will be utilized to fund these programs and appeals.
S-2140 was introduced and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on June 21, 2010. It was reported out of committee with amendments on June 24; and substituted by A-3010 on June 28, 2010. A-3010 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Budget Committee on June 24, 2010. The measure passed the Assembly and was received by the Senate as a substitute for S-2140 on June 28, 2010. It passed the Senate on June 28 and was signed into law by the Governor as P.L.2010, c.26 on June 30, 2010.
24. S-2039 (Bateman) / A-2954 (Bucco): (1) This bill would afford municipalities, counties, and school districts the ability to withdraw from Title 11A, the New Jersey Civil Service System, by referendum held after the submission of a petition signed by 15% of eligible voters from the previous general election. A majority vote will lead to such a withdrawal from the system; but if a majority is not obtained, no new election may be held on the same question before the second general election or municipal election following said referendum vote. Additionally, any local government entity which withdraws from the system will not be permitted to readopt the provisions of Title 11A for at least 10 years from the effective date of the withdrawal and such a re-adoption may only occur once.
(2) This bill also provides that a civil service seasonal temporary appointment may have a duration of nine months in length upon the application of the appointing authority and approval of the chairperson of the Civil Service Commission. The current law provides that a season appointment may only last six months. This provision of the legislation provides greater flexibility to local appointing authorities in hiring temporary employees when needed, while also being permitted to let them go when this need is met.
(3) Finally, the legislation also provides that an appointing authority may institute a “temporary layoff” or furlough for “economy, efficiency, or other related reasons.” A “temporary layoff” is defined as the closure of an entire layoff unit for one or more work days over a defined period or a staggered layoff of each employee in a layoff unit for one or more work days over a defined period. In a furlough, no employee in the layoff unit, whether career, senior executive, or unclassified, will be paid for any work day designated as a temporary layoff day.
S-2039 was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee on June 10, 2010. A-2954 was introduced and referred to the Assembly State Government Committee on June 17, 2010.
25. S-2135 (Cardinale) / A-2955 (Munoz, N.): This legislation would amend the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission and the Superior Court to consider appeals of disciplinary actions taken against State employees or police officers and firefighters in municipalities that have not adopted Civil Service rules. In accordance with the bill, when a State employee receives a disciplinary action resulting in suspension for more than 30 working days, the employee is vested with an automatic right to seek review of the disciplinary action with the Civil Service Commission. If said State employee receives a disciplinary action which results in a suspension of 30 days or less, he/she may petition for a review by the Civil Service Commission. Finally, any member or officer of a municipal police department or fire department (where the Civil Service laws have not been adopted) who receives a suspension of 30 days or more, has an automatic right of appeal to the Superior Court, provided that the disciplinary action did not emanate from the appellant officer’s criminal conduct.
Current law provides State employees with an automatic right to appeal the Commission if they receive a suspension of five days or more. Police officers and firefighters currently enjoy an automatic right of appeal to the Superior Court, without regard for the severity of the disciplinary action taken. Essentially, the bill reclassifies many public employee and police/firefighter offenses as minor in order to reduce hearing processes and procedures and thus decrease costs.
S-2135 was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic preservation Committee on June 24, 2010. A-2955 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee on June 17, 2010.
26. S-2011 (Oroho) / A-2956 (Chiusano, McHose): This bill would amend State Civil Service rules in allowing a county or a municipality to lay off, as part of a reduction in force, more senior employees if the less senior individuals possess the skills and abilities necessary to perform the functions of the position. However, when terminating a more senior employee instead of a less senior employee, the appointing authority must certify to the chairperson of the Civil Service Commission that the less senior employee has specialized skills, licenses, certifications, or other qualifications that are lacking in the senior employee and make the less senior employee indispensable and necessary. If the county or municipality in question has not adopted the civil service rules, the appointing authority must notify the Public Employment Relations Commission of pending layoffs to gain approval.
All too often, our Civil Service System and government employment practices monetarily reward employees based on seniority, without considering qualifications and skills. This bill will address that concern and allow for more flexibility in these employment decisions.
S-2011 was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee on June 3, 2010. A-2956 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee on June 17, 2010.
27. S-2154 (Oroho) / A-2957 (Chiusano): This bill seeks to replace references to the Civil Service Commission in multiple provisions of Title 11A (Civil Service) and other pertinent State statutes, with the chairperson of the commission in order to clearly articulate and enumerate the duties and responsibilities of the chairperson. The bill makes corrective amendments to the requisite statutes, following the reorganization of the Department of Personnel into essentially, the Civil Service Commission. The legislation also seeks to provide the chairperson of the Commission with more day-to-day control as was the case when the Department of Personnel was a freestanding State government department.
S-2154 was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee on June 28, 2010. A-2957 was introduced and referred to the Assembly State Government Committee on June 17, 2010.
28. S-2026 (Kean, T.) / A-2963 (Webber, Munoz, N.): (1) This bill removes from the Civil Service system all State college or university positions referred to as “unclassified service titles” or “career service titles.” An employee with permanent status in a title, however, will be permitted to retain all career service rights. Under current law, State colleges and universities are free from civil service limitations regarding professional members of the academic, teaching and administrative staff. This bill intends to remove all other titles or positions from the Civil Service system and place them under the auspices of each institution’s personnel system. Removing all State college and university professionals and employees from the State’s Civil Service system will reduce bureaucratic and administrative costs.
(2) The bill also provides that each State college or university would function as a public employer under the “New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act,” and conduct all labor negotiations. The legislation essentially calls for the designation of State colleges and universities as employers of record for collective bargaining purposes.
S-2026 was introduced and referred to the Senate Education Committee on June 3, 2010. A-2963 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Education Committee on June 17, 2010.
VII. Local Election Reforms:
29. S-1312 (Turner) / A-2143 (DeAngelo, Wolfe, Moriarty, Green, Voss, Diegnan): This bill provides that in a district where school board members are elected (Type II districts), those members shall be elected at the time of the general election in November and take office at the beginning of January. The bill would also permit boards of education of these school districts to determine annual school budgets without voter approval; however, budgets under cap will continue to be submitted to the Commissioner of Education for approval. A proposal for funds over the budget cap must be submitted to the voters for approval; however, this vote shall also take place in November. While districts will continue to submit budgets to the commissioner for review, if a district decides to seek over-cap funding via voter approval, that district will submit a temporary budget to the commissioner. If voters approve the proposal for additional funding, the board of education will submit the final budget to the commissioner and the tax levy for the school year will be recertified.
The bill does not alter the process for budget approval in school districts where board members are appointed (Type I districts), but alters the timing of appointments. School board members shall be appointed between December 1 and December 15, rather than between April 1 and April 15, with the term beginning on January 1.
This bill would reduce costs associated with having different elections separate from those in November when voters are going to the polls normally. No longer requiring voter approval on base budgets shall also serve in containing costs and reducing long delays that could result over long budget battles. However, requiring voter approval of budgets over cap allows the public to scrutinize increases in appropriations.
S-1312 was introduced and referred to the Senate Education Committee on February 8, 2010. A-2143 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Education Committee on February 11, 2010.
30. S-1781 (Beach, Norcross) / A-1646 (Greenwald): The bill provides that whenever sample ballots are to be mailed prior to an election, one sample ballot shall be delivered to a household, even where multiple prospective and registered voters reside. Under current law, one sample ballot must be delivered to each registered voter, even if residing at the same address. The practice of sending ballots to each voter in the household is excessive and inefficient; the voters can all study a single sample ballot in preparation for an upcoming election.
S-1781 was introduced and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee on March 15, 2010. A-1646 was introduced and referred to the Assembly State Government Committee on January 12, 2010.