Sweeney Addresses Cost Saving Reforms for State and Local Government
Joins Panel Discussion for League of Municipalities’ Legislative Day
Trenton – Senate President Steve Sweeney joined in a panel discussion sponsored by the League of Municipalities for its 27th Annual Mayors Legislative Day where he discussed the cost-cutting reforms in the “Path to Progress” report, including those that will produce savings and efficiencies for municipalities, school districts and their employees. Senator Sweeney participated as a member of the “Meet the Legislative Leaders” panel discussion.
“The proposals developed by the study commission will deliver savings for state and local government alike,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “Municipalities, local school districts and the taxpayers will realize the benefits of the proposals to address soaring pension and benefit costs, hold down property taxes, make government and school districts more efficient, and leverage state assets.”
Senator Sweeney has called for the merger of the high-cost School Employees Health Benefits Plan (SEHBP) into the lower-cost State Health Benefits Plan (SHBP) to take advantage of the cost savings negotiated by the Governor and the state’s largest public workers union. Combining the two healthcare plans will save money at the local level and reduce costs for school employees. It will be a cornerstone of a legislative package that will be introduced to implement recommendations of the bipartisan Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup.
The merger could produce hundreds of millions in savings for local government, school systems and their employees, with more savings in future years as additional school systems and government entities rejoin the SHBP.
“While the state employee unions worked hard to find savings, the SEHBP has gotten so expensive that it has lost one-third of its members since 2014,” said Senator Sweeney. “It makes no sense for a teacher making $75,000 to pay up to $8,718 for the premium on an SEHBP family plan when a state worker making the same amount only has to pay $5,438 in the SHBP. Teachers and taxpayers will pay less and continue to receive full health care coverage.”
Senator Sweeney repeated his pledge that the Path to Progress legislative package will not require retirees to pay more for their healthcare coverage.
“While New Jersey is unique in charging retirees less than current employees for their healthcare coverage, we recognize that living costs are high, and we will not be asking retirees to pay more,” Senator Sweeney said. “In fact, we want everyone to pay less.”
Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, the President of the League of Municipalities, praised Senator Sweeney’s efforts.
“We applaud all efforts to reduce costs at the local level while preserving quality health benefits for our employees,” said Mayor Mahr. “We thank the Senate President for making this shared goal a priority and look forward to working with the Legislature and Administration to turn these goals into reality.”