Sweeney Testifies That Public Employee Benefit Changes Are “Fair And Affordable”

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Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney

TRENTON – NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) testified before the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee in support of a bill to alter the pensions and health care benefits offered to public employees.

“The governor’s original proposals were too harsh. He asked that all public employees immediately pay 30% of health care costs and his pension reforms were unfair to the workers of this state. He was wrong,” Sweeney said.

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“We could either oppose the governor outright or craft our own revolutionary and responsible reform. We need action. Reform is needed now. We have a pension system in crisis, one that is teetering on the brink of collapse.”

“These reforms would save the pensions of over 800,000 public workers,” Sweeney said.

“Public employees need to pay a greater share of their health costs. We must be fair to them and their families. But we must also be fair to the taxpayers who are on the hook.

“Anyone in this day and age who thinks health care can come practically free is simply not living in reality. Certain union leaders have noted that health care costs will continue to rise. The fact is that under their status quo, taxpayers would shoulder the entire burden of that increase. Towns would shoulder that burden by having to cut services or raise taxes or lay off more workers.

“At the end of the day, we cannot continue to allow there to be winners and losers in this discussion. Everyone must be treated fairly. Responsible reform is needed now.

“Change is here and it is fair and affordable,” Sweeney concluded.


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