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(4th LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT) – Assemblyman Paul Moriarty on Monday said a recent report that found New Jersey’s public worker pension fund will run out in 2019 is further evidence of the need to get all current and future lobbyists out of the state pension and benefits system.
“No one denies that we need more long-term reform, but our first step should be to finally get lobbyists out of our taxpayer-funded system,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “It’s disgraceful that lobbyists have been allowed to feed off of taxpayers for this long, and it’s time to put a stop to it. This change should be first on our list as move to fix this system to ensure it’s sustainable only for hard-working public servants, not lobbyists.”
Moriarty has sponsored legislation (A-2499) that would overturn a 1954 law that allowed lobbyists to benefit from taxpayer-paid pensions and health benefits. His bill would ban all current and future lobbyists from receiving taxpayer-paid benefits.
It’s been released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and Moriarty said he would push for a vote by the full Assembly at its next voting session, set for Nov. 22.
The Record of Bergen County earlier this year reported how 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.
“Lobbyists are not public employees working on behalf of taxpayers,” Moriarty said. “We’ve actually seen lobbyists all too many times work against progress and the very interests of taxpayers. None of the three associations is part of state government. They’re private groups that have no business benefiting from taxpayers. We must finally fix this mistake.”
The report by Joshua D. Rauh, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, found New Jersey pension funds will run out in 2019, even with an 8 percent return on its investments.
Moriarty’s bill 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.
“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, tax and pension concerns, but it would be a step in the right direction toward controlling property taxes and government waste.”