When Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) asked the Democratic Caucus this afternoon for a gut-check on the PERS/PFRS bills cosponsored by state Senators Brian P. Stack and Nick Sacco, he didn’t exactly receive a hearty endorsement.
In fact, just the opposite.
S-2789 allows PFRS to pay pension to a member who resigns and retires from PFRS-covered employment to assume elected office with the same employer to eliminate a conflict of incompatible positions.S2788 allows municipal elected officials in PERS to retire based on other PERS service and remain in office with no salary or healthcare benefits for that office. The bills would help Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis, a longtime local cop who transferred to the top position in City Hall, and a newly minted ally of the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) establishment.
Stack and Sacco combined on the bill and now their chief lower house ally, Prieto, wants to get it done.
But that looks doubtful right now.
According to a source in the caucus room at the Statehouse, about 15 hands shot up when leadership asked if anyone had issues with the bills that would prevent them from voting for them. Another source – a lawmaker – present in the caucus room said he was uncomfortable with boutique legislation designed for people holding public office. The Republicans are against the bills, so it would likely only get like 33 votes.
Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt and Assemblyman Troy Singleton of South Jersey led those in the caucus speaking out against the bills. Lawmakers from the South, Middlesex and Union opposed the bills.
One source coming out of the caucus room objected to the north versus south characterization, noting the presence of voices from across the state opposing the legislation and noted the bad timing of the bills without lawmakers’ adjustment first of larger pension issues. A second source similarly doubted the north/south divide dynamic in the caucus’ consideration of the bills. “It’s not an accurate depiction of the overall discussion,” said the source, again pointing out the multiple outcries in the caucus room from around the state.
The bills wouldn’t go forward on Thursday. Another complication included the absences of five caucus members, making it that much more difficult for Prieto to get to 41 votes. “I think… that this one looks like an honest to goodness policy difference [yes, those still happen in Trenton] as opposed to north/south divide,” a source insisted.
But another source close to the caucus disagreed. “They are crummy,” the source said in reference to the two bills. “But bills just as bad have come before.
“He [Prieto] has not engaged in any discussion about opportunity scholarship or pension changes,” the source added. “The stage is being set for a leadership fight.”