Ciattarelli: Dem Arbitration Bill Would Wipe Out Property Tax Savings

Ciattarelli: Dem Arbitration Bill Would Wipe Out Property Tax Savings

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 28, 2014 – (RealEstateRama) — Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex, provided the remarks below regarding the Democrat’s alternate arbitration bill, A-3067, which was approved today during the General Assembly’s voting session:

“A three- or four-year extension of current law or a permanent two percent arbitration cap is the bill we should be voting on today.

If not that bill, then a bill that abolishes binding arbitration, substituted by the non-binding mediation/fact-finding procedures other public unions utilize.

The loopholes in today’s bill – utilization of the cap only once during the two back-to-back arbitration cap laws and requiring arbitrators to include employee health benefit contributions and workforce reduction cost savings as salary compensatory – are of great concern.

Specific to the first loophole, anything other than an extension of current law, a permanent cap, or abolishing binding arbitration seems like window-dressing. Specific to the second loophole, we should be prohibiting arbitrators from including employee health benefit contributions and workforce reduction cost savings as salary compensatory.

If this bill were to become law, we are wiping out the property tax savings made possible by the reforms so celebrated by Trenton. If this bill were to become law, what was the point of the reforms?

Just this morning, the Mayor of Princeton emailed to say: ‘Please amend the bill so that property taxpayers receive the full benefit of the reforms.’

We all acknowledge the property tax crisis. We all acknowledge the need for property tax reform. And yet, here we are voting on a bill that will not only worsen the property tax crisis, it will make the two percent property tax cap virtually impossible.

Dare I say that municipal police are, on average, more than well paid. Yes, police and firefighters put their lives on the line each day, but of their own free will. I know of other more dangerous professions that pay less.

To enact this bill is to create a superior class of municipal employee. Yes, police and firefighters cannot strike. Yes, police and firefighter job descriptions are different. But that alone is not justification for superior compensation policies – policies vastly different from all other municipal employees.

Let me also say, this bill perpetuates the never-ending public sector mistake of ignoring two critical private sector macroeconomic principles: supply & demand and the ability to pay.

There are those who suggest that this bill’s arbitration cap is better than no arbitration cap at all. With all due respect to the sponsors and those who ultimately vote ‘yes’ today, I cannot, in good conscience, vote ‘yes’ on a bill that:

• Wipes away the property tax savings of landmark reforms,
• creates a superior class of municipal employee, and
• worsens New Jersey’s property tax crisis by rendering the two percent property tax cap impossible.”

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