A new municipal benefits committee required under a benefits reform proposal introduced by Senate President Steve Sweeney could damage collective bargaining, threaten liability to the municipality and violate various labor and privacy laws, according to a review by the New Jersey League of Municipalities.
In a letter to members, League Executive Director Bill Dressel outlines the group’s problems with the bill introduced by Sweeney that would mandate increased employee contributions for health benefits. The bill also requires an Employee Quality, Cost and Delivery (EQCD) Committee, which the League says could cause issues for its members.
Among the league’s other concerns over the Sweeney plan are a provision that would require municipalities that do not participate in the state health benefits program to offer employees a choice of five benefits plans with scaled costs. Those plans would require the approval of the state Department of Pensions and Benefits.
In a meeting with Sweeney, the League also expressed concern over a provision that would bar any new entrants into the state health plan. Dressel said instead the group has suggested a plan that would require a set commitment from new entrants to stay in the program for a pre-determined number of years.
Sweeney’s plan would mandate a greater contribution to employee health benefits and would phase in over seven years. The contribution would depend on the employee’s salary. State Sen. Jen Beck (R-12) has teamed with Sweeney on the bill and the pair is negotiating several items, including the inclusion of retirees.