MORIARTY, BARNES & VAINIERI HUTTLE BILL BARRING LOBBYISTS FROM TAXPAYER-PAID PENSIONS & BENEFITS GETS FINAL LEGISLATIVE OK

(TRENTON) – A bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Peter J. Barnes III, and Valerie Vainieri Huttle barring newly hired employees of lobbying organizations from receiving taxpayer-funded pension and health benefits was approved on Monday by the Assembly by a vote of 76-0.
The bill (A-2499) revises a 1954 law that allowed lobbyists to benefit from taxpayer-paid pensions and health benefits.
“Paying the pensions and health benefits for lobbyists is beyond unacceptable,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “It’s inconceivable that lobbyists are benefiting from these systems at taxpayer expense. A mistake was made a long time ago to allow this to happen, but. it’s time to bring an end to it.”
“The last thing taxpayers should ever be obligated to do is pay the pensions and health benefits for lobbyists,” said Barnes (D-Middlesex). “It’s long past time that we put a stop to it for the sake of our overburdened taxpayers. This vote is welcome progress.”
“It’s this simple – lobbyists are not public workers, and thus should not enjoy publicly paid pensions and benefits,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Taxpayers deserve better and this vote is a step toward correcting this mistake.”
The Record of Bergen County has reported that taxpayers are giving $1.3 million a year to 62 retirees of the League of Municipalities, the School Boards Association and the Association of Counties. None of the three associations are part of state government.
Rather, they’re privately run groups that were granted pension rights decades ago.
The bill (A-2499) would:
· Eliminate eligibility for any state-administered retirement system for newly hired officers and employees of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Association of Counties, the New Jersey School Boards Association, any school board insurance group, any county college joint insurance group, any county or municipal joint insurance fund and any corporation designated to manage a special improvement district established by municipal ordinance.
· Eliminate pension enrollment for employees of those organizations who have less than five years of service credit.
· Eliminate within 18 months the eligibility of all such officers and employees for health care benefits coverage through the State Health Benefits Program or through any health care benefits plan provided by the state or a political subdivision of the state.
· Prohibit any officer or employee of an educational foundation created by or on behalf of a higher education institution in this state for the purpose of receiving donations from becoming a member of the pension system on the basis of that employment.
“This bill wouldn’t be a cure-all to our budget and tax woes, but it would be a step in the right direction toward controlling property taxes and government waste,” Moriarty said.