(TRENTON) — Legislation Assemblyman Paul Moriarty has introduced to begin prohibiting employees of government lobbying organizations from enrolling in taxpayer-paid pension systems and the state health benefits program was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
“Our system has for too long been burdening our property taxpayers, and, to put it simply, paying pensions and health benefits for lobbyists is 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. It’s time to end it.”
The Record of Bergen County recently reported how New Jerseyans will pay pension benefits to a lobbyist earning $191,000 a year, and how he’s just one of many non-government workers entitled to public retirement payouts.
The paper found 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 is part of state government. Rather, they’re privately run groups that were granted pension rights by legislators 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; and
- 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.
“Taxpayers have had it and so have I,” said Moriarty. “Apparently there was a time in which legislators were more than willing to give lobbyists taxpayer-paid pensions, but that party is over. 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.”
The bill was unanimously released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee as part of a six-bill pension and health benefit reform package.
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