(TRENTON) — Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver and Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan on Monday announced they’ve assigned nearly three dozen property tax reform ideas to 12 Assembly Democrats who will review the concepts over the summer in preparation for legislative action in the fall.
The Assembly Democrats were asked by Oliver and Cryan to analyze each property tax reform concept and convene public hearings, at their discretion, to gather input from residents and experts. Of the 12 Democrats, 11 are committee chairpersons.
“We know that property taxes continue to be the top concern of New Jerseyans, and tackling property tax reform has been one of my top priorities,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “This will be an extensive effort over the summer to properly analyze reforms put forth by Democrats and Republicans and develop a real plan of action to bring relief to taxpayers. This is going to be a thorough review that brings smart reform to New Jersey.”
Oliver and Cryan said the concepts include both those offered by Gov. Chris Christie and ideas proposed by Democratic legislators.
“This reform effort will not be one based on repeated sound bites and rhetoric,” said Cryan (D-Union). “This will be an in-depth review of bipartisan ideas, with the goal being to study, organize and approve an effective plan to control spending and property taxes without crippling crucial services and crushing worker rights. We’ve seen the pitfalls of rushing policy, so we will do this the right way.”
Oliver and Cryan made the following assignments:
Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem):
- Shared Services reform — when local units decide to share services current law requires buyout of union contracts, bumping and other civil service protections that destroy the efficiencies of the merger; this proposal eliminates certain civil service protections when services are shared (2 bills to amend different statutes).
- Revise fact finder decision standards when awarding a new employee contract to account for decrease in state aid level, effect on tuition and benefits already provided to employees.
Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex):
- No school contract award, including benefit costs, in excess of the statutory or constitutional levy cap.
- School districts could once again impose a “last best offer” contract under certain circumstances.
- Executive county superintendents approval of all union and superintendent contracts.
- No approval if salary/benefit increases exceed the levy cap, pupil contact time per day as set by regulation, minimum number of work as set by regulation or auxiliary/ancillary services contracted out.
- Executive county superintendents would be required to implement sharing of school business functions across districts and municipalities.
Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic):
- Designate State colleges and universities as employer of record for collective bargaining.
- Allows colleges and universities more control of a process when they have day-to-day contact with employees.
Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D-Camden):
- Constitutional amendment to place a 2.5% cap on spending for state government operations.
- PERC selects three arbitrators for union contract from a list of 25, parties then pick one of the three selected arbitrators, instead of parties agreeing to choose a specific name directly from the list of 25 as is currently the case.
- Arbitrators are mandated to consider the impact of union contracts on property taxes, no such requirement in current law.
- Arbitrators are barred from making contract awards that exceed 2.5% cap, inclusive of all salary, benefits and other economic contract provisions.
Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt (D-Camden):
- Allow state colleges and universities to hire faculty members for a probationary period.
- Remove classified employers from Civil Service status and include them within each institution’s personnel system.
- Allow separate workers compensation program management for college and universities.
Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex):
- Constitutional amendment to impose a 2.5% cap on increases in the property tax levy increases for municipal, school and county taxes, cap banking is allowed.
- Revise layoff rules to allow lesser senior, but more essential employees to avoid bumping.
- Allow a municipality to lay claim to any Gross Income Tax refund (or a portion thereof) of a delinquent property taxpayer under the State’s Set-Off of Individual Liabilities program (SOIL).
Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden):
- Pension benefit reform – eliminate eligibility for State retirement systems for outside groups and associations.
- Allow furloughs by local government to save costs.
Assemblywoman Nellie Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen):
- Pension and Benefit Reform — Cap sick leave and carry forward of vacation for current employees.
- Pension reforms similar to those affecting municipalities.
Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson):
- Allow counties and municipalities to opt out of civil service by ordinance or referendum signed by 15% of the voters.
Assemblyman Fred Scalera (D-Essex/Bergen/Passaic):
- Expand parties that may bring challenges to Council on Local Mandates to include groups, like the League of Municipalities. Currently, only individual municipalities can do this and it is too costly for one town to “go it alone.”
Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset):
- Public employee discipline reform — reclassify many offenses as minor to avoid lengthy and costly hearings fro relatively trivial infractions.
- Police employee discipline reform — reclassify many offenses as minor to avoid lengthy and costly hearings from relatively trivial infractions.
- Firefighters discipline reform — reclassify many offenses as minor to avoid lengthy and costly hearings fro relatively trivial infractions.
- Employee discipline reform — revise appeal process of employee disciplinary hearings to reclassify many offenses as minor.
- Give Civil Service Commissioner more day-to-day control as when the Department of Personnel was a freestanding department.
- Increase testing and appeals fees for civil service promotional exams.
- Allow Civil Service Commissioner to make seasonal appointment for nine months.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex):
- Move school and fire elections to November.
- Require only single ballot to each household instead of multiple ballots to all voters residing in household.
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