League: No cap coming on arbitration awards

The League of Municipalities is reporting this morning that the arbitration reform bill due to be voted on this afternoon does no include a cap on awards as the league – along with Gov. Chris Christie – has requested.

“It is our understanding that A-3393, sponsored by Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, which would establish “fair and final offer” will be amended and possibly passed by the committee. We have not seen the amendments, but it is our understanding that they DO NOT include a cap on awards,” League Executive Director Bill Dressel said in an urgent release to his membership.

The arbitration reform bill was scheduled to be voted on by the budget committee Monday, but an impasse between Republican assembly members – backed by Christie – and Democrats delayed the committee vote.

The sticking point is a cap on awards, which Republicans say is integral to the success of the tax levy cap passed last summer and signed into law.

“With an inflexible 2% cap on the property tax levy, the Legislature should realize that any arbitration awards with a total economic impact of more than 2% will force cuts elsewhere in your budget,” Dressel said.  “To fund increased public safety compensation, in excess of the 2% cap, municipalities will need to cut services, salaries and/or personnel in other departments or reduce the number of uniformed officers.”

The committee is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. today to take up the debate on the reform bill.

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver) who was negotiating with Greenwald on behalf of his party said thursday that he has not heard from anyone from the other side of the aisle since Monday when the negotiations broke up.

“I’m here if someone comes to me with a policy that makes sense,” he said. “We are here and happy to talk about it.  It’s more important to get the policy  right than to get some policy done that’s a complete waste of everyone’s time.”

O’Scanlon reiterated his belief that Christie would not sign a bill without the hard cap on awards in place.

“If they haven’t gotten the administration support than I think it’s disingenuous to declare victory,” he said, referring to a press conference called by the assembly leadership, reportedly to announce progress on the arbitration reform bill. League: No cap coming on arbitration awards