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(WAYNE) – Property tax reform legislation Assembly Democrats Lou Greenwald, Joan Quigley, Upendra Chivukula and Elease Evans sponsored to revise the arbitration system for police and firefighter salaries was signed into law Tuesday.
The legislation (A-3393) – the makings of which were unveiled Nov. 23 by Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem) and Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic) – was signed by the governor in Passaic County.
“This law is what New Jersey has needed – reform that is both fair to taxpayers and the courageous police and firefighters who protect public safety,” said Greenwald (D-Camden). “We wanted a reasonable approach that will help control property taxes but protect the rights of police and firefighters. This law does exactly that to everyone’s benefit.”
“Our unwieldy arbitration system led to questionable decisions that helped drive up property taxes in our state and it was time for it to change,” said Quigley (D-Hudson/Bergen). “This law ensures that the interests of property taxpayers are finally protected while also ensuring a fair system for our the police and firefighters who ensure our safety. It’s a sound approach.”
“This is a great step toward property tax reform,” said Chivukula (D-Somerset/Middlesex). “It will bring relief to taxpayers while ensuring fairness for our brave police and firefighters. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
“This long-awaited reform is commonsense,” said Evans (D-Passaic/Bergen). “It will bring property tax relief while respecting the rights of police and firefighters who protect us daily. I look forward to it benefiting our state.”
“New Jersey taxpayers wanted reform that controls property taxes while also respecting the hard-working police and firefighters who bravely keep us safe day after day,” Oliver said. “This accomplishes those goals. It’s why we were able to build a strong and wide-ranging consensus around it.”
The law will, among other things:
· Impose an average 2 percent cap on salary increases for all police and firefighter arbitration awards from Jan. 1, 2011 to April 1, 2014 to allow the state to gauge its effectiveness.
· Only affect interest arbitration, not collective bargaining.
· Require pay for longevity, length of service, salary increments and other similar compensation to be included in the cap.
· Require all contracts that expire in the three-year window to adhere to the cap. This will prevent the purposeful stalling of contract negotiations.
· Cap arbitrator compensation at $1,000 per day and $7,500 per case.
· Increase ethical standards and training for interest arbitrators.
· Randomize the selection of interest arbitrators.
· Create a task force to examine the impact of interest arbitration reform and the effectiveness of the cap on restricting municipal spending. The governor will appoint four members and two members will be appointed by the Senate President and Assembly Speaker. The task force will provide recommendations no later than December 31, 2013.