GOP introduces referendum bill for a constitutional amendment to judges’ salary provision

TRENTON – Republican Assemblywomen Amy Handlin (R-13), of Middletown, and Caroline Casagrande (R-12), of Colts Neck, introduced a bill today that would allow voters to determine whether the state Constitution should be amended to require increased contributions from sitting judges as part of the state’s pension and benefit reforms.

Their proposed legislation, ACR208, follows a Superior Court ruling that the provision of the state Constitution protecting sitting judges from pay cuts extends to increased contributions.

The N.J. Supreme Court decided that they would hear the state’s appeal of the case brought by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Paul DePascale.

Handlin said in a release, “The decision as to whether judges should be included in the historic pension reforms enacted in June should not be made by those with a vested interest. The new pension legislation never intended to exclude a select group of well-paid public servants.”

According to Casagrande, “The pension system is on the verge of collapse. In order to save it, everyone needs to participate. With so many people struggling during these difficult times, reforming the pension system is an opportunity to deliver tremendous property tax relief and preserve the system for its participants.

“It is an issue about fairness,” she said. “This legislation is not a radical step, but one that provides the necessary remedy in order to prevent judges from avoiding their responsibility to help save the system that is extremely generous to them.”

The average salary for a judge is $166,000 per year, and they currently contribute 3 percent of their salaries toward a pension which averages $107,000 annually upon retirement. The average lifetime payout for a retired judge is approximately $2.3 million in benefits, while their average lifetime contribution is only $59,300.

GOP introduces referendum bill for a constitutional amendment to judges’ salary provision