This week, the State Legislature passed a bi-partisan pension and benefit reform bill that is critically important to both our State and our City. This bill goes a long way toward ensuring that public employees will get the benefits they were promised while establishing reasonable health insurance co-pays fair to both taxpayers and workers. I want to thank Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Majority Leader Sheila Oliver for their leadership. They rose above partisan interest group politics and demonstrated that fiscal responsibility remains a core value of our Democratic Party.
I want to give a special thank you to our State Senator, Brian Stack, who courageously put the interests of his constituents first. Every City in Hudson County will benefit from Senator Stack’s willingness to do what was right, despite enormous political pressure to cater to special interests instead.
It is important to clear up an important misconception about this bill. While a preliminary version of the legislation contained a provision, which I strongly opposed, that required all public workers to obtain their health care in New Jersey, the final legislation has no such requirement. Workers will be able to choose from multiple plans and select the one that makes the most sense for themselves and their families.
Establishing a uniform co-pay at the State level will help cities like Hoboken avoid the kind of divisive local confrontations that has damaged the fabric of so many communities. The rising cost of health care is a problem for every municipality in our State, making a state-wide solution both fair and appropriate. I believe that those who view this as a threat to our collective bargaining system will be proven wrong. Resolving these emotional and seemingly intractable issues at the State level will help restore our broken collective bargaining system to health, allowing us to negotiate in a more productive and successful way in the best interests of both our taxpayers and our workers.