Category Archives: health benefits and pension reform

My9 Interview with Brenda Blackmon Featuring Ray Santiago, Candidate For NJ State Senate In District 11

Watch Ray Santiago’s interview on My9, which aired 7/10/11. He speaks about pension reform, the governor’s line item vetoes, his background, and his campaign!

Ray is running for State Senate in the newly formed 11th district against incumbent Republican Jennifer Beck. He will be on the ticket with running mates Vin Gopal and Marilyn Schlossbach who are seeking the Assembly seats in the same district.

MY9TV.COM – Political strategists Brendan Gill and Bill Spadea debate the Governor Christie’s line-item vetoes to the State Budget, as well as the war of words between Senate President Sweeney and the Governor over the cuts. Then, State Senate Candidate Raymond Santiago discusses his run for office and the issues that concern him the most. And as we turn to the economy, we hear about a bond program in Essex County that’s helping small business owners in the community.

http://www.my9tv.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=10588

New Jersey Now: July 10, 2011: My9TV.com

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Filed under 11th Legislative District, Gov. Chris Christie, health benefits and pension reform, Jennifer Beck, line item veto, Marilyn Schlossbach, my9news, Ray Santiago, Vin Gopal

Countdown: How Big a ‘Bully’ is Chris Christie?

If you haven’t been keeping up with Keith Olbermann since returning to the airwaves last month,you’ve been missing out on some good TV. Last night Olbermann ran a segment that addressed NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney’s recent outburst concerning Governor Christie use of the line-item veto to slash many provisions out of the Democratically crafted State budget.

Sweeney went ballistic on Friday, calling Christie every name in the book after learning of the cuts. Evidently Sweeney is feeling a little betrayed and let down by the Governor after delivering him his victory in the fight over pension and benefit reforms with state workers unions.

In the future, Stephen Sweeney should be a little more leery about who he intended to make a bed with. Once you decide to sleep with them, your soiled for life and it is hard to undo sleaziness of how you feel after.

After all, what did Sweeney expect from a big bully like Chris Christie? Once a bully, always a bully. Your either a friend or a foe, there’s no in-between. And Christie has made it very evident what he considers Sweeney to be. The problem for Sweeney however, is that many of his constituents around the state are also beginning to see where Sweeney stands on the issues and they don’t like it.

On Friday, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney called Governor Chris Christie a “bully” and a “rotten bastard.” And that wasn’t all. Keith talks with Evan McMorris-Santoro of Talking Points Memo about the political betrayal that set Sweeney off and what it reveals about New Jersey’s large-and-in-charge governor.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

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Filed under Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Gov. Chris Christie, health benefits and pension reform, line item veto, NJ State Budget, public unions, Stephen Sweeney

>George Norcross tales dubbed "bogeyman" bunk are rooted in reality

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Good video for your watching from the Star Ledger’s Brian Donohue, it leaves you scratching your head afterwards:

Ledger Live for June 25, 2011 –

Ledger Live with Brian Donohue. On todayapos;s show, Brian Donohue examines how the battle over the pension and benefits reform bill passed by the New Jersey legislature raised questions about the influence of South Jersey Democratic leader George Norcross. Assertions by Norcross ally Sen. Steve Sweeney that Norcross plays little role in the legislative process contrast sharply with Norcrossapos; own words, as captured in 2001 recordings made as part of a state attorney generalapos;s office investigation.

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Filed under Brian Donohue, Democratic Leader, George Norcross, health benefits and pension reform, NJ State Legislature, political machine, South Jersey, Stephen Sweeney, the Star-Ledger

>Fine Print: Senate Bill No. 2937 Proposed legislation would dictate sweeping changes to public employees’ pensions and healthcare benefits

>By John Mooney – NJSPOTLIGHT.com

Synopsis: “An act concerning public employee pension and health care benefits, and amending and supplementing various parts of the statutory law and repealing P.L.1999, c.96 and P.L.1985, c.414. Makes various changes to pension and healthcare benefits for public employees”

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Senate Bill No. 2937

Primary sponsor: Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester)

What it means: The 120-page bill makes sweeping changes to public employees’ contributions to their pension and health benefit plans, and to the rules that dictate those benefits. Pensions and benefits have been at the center of debate between Gov. Chris Christie and the legislature since Christie took office, and the apparent agreement on this bill — at least for now — has consumed Trenton for much of the last week and likely for the next.

It’s all in the details: The new bill, introduced yesterday, would require public employees pay up to an additional 2.5 percent of their salaries toward their pensions, and up to 30 percent of their healthcare premiums. But how the law meets those thresholds represents the key differences between what Christie has sought and what Sweeney now proposes, with the Democratic leader phasing in some of the increases and also scaling the healthcare contribution, depending on salary. Low-paid public workers will barely make any contribution at all.

Riding off into the sunset clause: Sweeney struck a deal with Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) in introducing the bill to also include Oliver’s proposal that the health benefits changes would have a “sunset clause” and revert to being a subject of collective bargaining in 2014. Christie has not yet commented on the proposed sunset, but has appeared reluctant to back any reforms that have a limited shelf life.

What’s next: The Senate budget committee is set to hold a hearing on the bill tomorrow, with the Assembly budget committee slated to hold its own hearing on the companion bill on Monday.

The reaction: Needless to say, public employees unions aren’t taking too well to the ideas, and have big protests planned tomorrow for the Statehouse and maybe legislators’ homes. The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is also holding a press conference today to point out what it calls the false assumptions and savings in the proposals.

Will it pass? That of course, is the bottom line. It’s as close as ever to passage, to be sure, but it faces lots of questions both in substance and politics. Sweeney has said he will push it through, even if it means defying some of his Democratic caucus. Oliver has been less willing, and has indicated she may not post it for final vote without consent of her members.

In the end, it will require what was once unfathomable: a sizable number of Democrats going against organized labor during an election year. But these are remarkable times, with similar measures passing in other states with Democratic support.

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, health benefits and pension reform, NJEA, NJspotlight, public unions, senate bill 2937, Sheila Oliver, Stephen Sweeney