PRESS RELEASE April-29-2019

Sweeney Speaks to Mayors on Cost Saving Reforms for State/Local Government & Taxpayers

Addresses New Jersey Conference of Mayors’ Annual Spring Conference

Atlantic City – Senate President Steve Sweeney spoke to New Jersey mayors today on the need to enact cost-reducing reforms in the “Path to Progress” report, including those that will produce savings and efficiencies for municipalities, school districts and their employees.

Senator Sweeney addressed the New Jersey Conference of Mayors’ Annual Spring Conference in Atlantic City about recommended reforms that will help hold down property taxes and reduce costs for public employees.

“The proposals developed by the study commission will deliver savings for state and local government alike,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “Municipalities, school districts and taxpayers will realize the benefits of the proposals to help hold down property taxes and make local governments and school districts more efficient.”

Core recommendations developed by the bipartisan Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup to produce cost savings for local governments include the merger of the high-cost School Employees Health Benefits Plan into the lower-cost State Health Benefits Plan, the creation of a hybrid pension plan, and a shift of employee healthcare coverage from Platinum to Gold level plans.

Combining the two healthcare plans will save money at the local level and reduce costs for individual school employees. The merger could produce hundreds of millions in savings for local government and school systems, which will help hold down property taxes.

“The merger will result in teachers and taxpayers paying less while the employees continue to receive full health care coverage,” said Senator Sweeney. “Shifting healthcare coverage from the current ‘Platinum-Plus-Plus’ system to a Gold-level plan means that teachers and other public employees would save over $200 million that they are paying out of their paychecks.”

Senator Sweeney repeated his pledge that the Path to Progress legislative package will not require retirees to pay more for their healthcare coverage.

“We applaud all efforts to reduce costs at the local level while preserving quality health benefits for employees,” said Mayor Teri Branella of the Borough of Brooklawn and NJCM Vice President. “We have a shared priority of reducing expenses so that we can continue to provide the services that are so important to municipalities. We are on the front line when it comes to vital government services in communities throughout the state.”

Also participating in the discussion was Richard Keevey, Senior Policy Fellow, Rutgers University Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy and a member of the fiscal workgroup.