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Stress Need for Deliberative Process that ‘Gets it Right the First Time’

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(TRENTON) — The Democratic members of the Assembly Budget Committee today issued a multimedia package discussing the need for a thorough review of pension and benefits reforms. They released the package following a presentation to the panel by the state Division of Pension and Benefits.

The multimedia package consists of a video on the committee’s hearing, audio of the same and a transcript of statements from Democratic legislators on the panel.

The video can be accessed directly via our Web site — — or by clicking here.

The audio file is available upon request.

A transcript of statements from the legislators is appended below:

Louis D. Greenwald (D-Camden), Assembly Budget Committee chair:
“We represent the people. The purpose of the Legislature is to make sure the people understand the actions that we are doing; that discussion is important. And the role of the Legislature as an equal branch of government to the governor is to make sure that discussion takes place and that the decisions that are made are done so in an educated fashion, not just by the legislators but by the people that we represent.”

Assemblywoman Nellie Pou (D-Passaic), Assembly Appropriations Committee chair:
“Today’s hearing is very important. It gives us an opportunity to debate the issue. It gives us an opportunity to update the information. It gives us an opportunity that whatever reforms we put forward are reforms that are going to protect both the taxpayers as well as the public employees and secure the solvency of our pension [system] going into the future.”

Assemblywoman Joan M. Quigley (D-Hudson):
“We have to make sure that we don’t create a fix that makes things even worse. The people who are in the pension system have been promised pensions; they built their lives around future pensions; we can’t hurt them. And yet, at the same time, we have to make sure that the taxpayers are not unduly funding pensions that are unaffordable.”

Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen):
“One has to realize that as we go forward and we try to resolve this pension problem that we have, which is an economic problem, we have to keep in mind that it cannot be done on the backs of those who are paying property taxes — the taxpayers of the state.”

Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli (D-Gloucester):
“New employees coming in at a given point time will have a different kind of plan. I don’t think it will be this very traditional plan which we have so many people that are vested in. But that’s the first issue we have is to make sure the pension plan is solvent. I mean, it’s ok today but going forward we have to make some changes. If not, it’s going to be in real trouble.”

Assemblyman Gary S. Schaer (D-Passaic), Assembly Budget Committee vice chair:
“The pension reform bills I think are a good step forward. But we need to hear from all sides. We need to understand what it is that we are really doing. We need to make sure that the unintended consequences of the best of intentions a few years ago do not have the same effects this time around. We have to get it right. We owe it to the taxpayers.”

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