Roeder: pension cuts target women and minorities

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TRENTON – These measures would target women and minorities, argued CWA Local 1033 Prez Rae Roeder, who led the charge here this morning on the state Senate Government and Wagering Committee, which wants to move on a four-bill package of public pension reforms. 

“These bills are wrong,” said Roeder.

Her gripe is that the biggest proposed reform impact would be to the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS), which is composed of 70-75% women and minorities.

Police and firemen and teachers are ticked, too, but their respective pension systems, respectively the Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF), and the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS), don’t weather the hit suggested for the on-average lower salaried PERS members, Roeder argued. 

The average pension benefits for state and local government workers is $35,412 and $31,533 respectively, compared to $41,993 for teachers, $70,972 for police officers, and $79,109 for state troopers.

Roeder complained that under the proposed cuts to PERS and TBAF using a three-year instead of a one-year average, the benefits would reduce pensions by 11% annually, or approximately 2.8%.

AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech backed up Roeder in his own testimony.

“It’s very vogue now to reform the public pension system,” Wowkanech said, “but by doing this you may hurt innocent people, not achieve property tax reduction as a consequence, be left wondering, ‘What have we really done here?'”

Offering testimony in favor of the public pension reform package, Matthew Watkins, township administrator for South Brunswick, said it’s long overdue.

“Without help to curb costs, we’ll have no end of property tax increases at the local level,” Watkins told the committee.

Roeder: pension cuts target women and minorities