The New Jersey State Pension and Health Benefits Commission missed the point when it recommended to the Legislature that it not enact a bill which would end health benefit coverage for part-time elected officials, said Assemblymen John Amodeo and Vince Polistina, the sponsors of the bill.

?Our bill says that part-time politicians should not receive the same benefits as a full time worker,? said Amodeo. ?Elected officials making $50,000 or less are not expected to give up their full time jobs, so why should they be compensated over and above their time to attend meetings??

?This bill is part of an overall package of reform bills we are sponsoring and supporting,? said Polistina. ?It is time for the tail to stop wagging the dog. Elected officials work for the public, not the other way around. There are people who run for office just for the pension. If we can take money, in the form of benefits, out the equation, maybe more people will run for office with the public interest foremost in their mind.?

The Commission?s recommendation though not binding on the Legislature might prejudice the leadership from allowing the bill to come up for a vote.

?The Legislature has passed bills which have expanded pension and health care benefits over the objections of this commission,? said Amodeo. ?Here is a bill that saves taxpayer money. This should be an easy lift.?

?Since we are talking about the state pension and health benefits system, we need to address the situation statewide,? said Polistina. ?Leaving the decision to offer benefits to each municipality, as the commission recommends, is unfair to taxpayers everywhere in New Jersey.?

Amodeo and Polistina?s bill, A-2446, is currently awaiting consideration in the Assembly State Government Committee.


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