Former Holmdel Committeeman Terence Wall on proposed cuts to employee contributions to health insurance.

HOLMDEL, NJ - A national emergency is crippling the country, people are infected, financial markets are temporarily crushed and all public, private and parochial schools are closed. 

This Thursday, however, according to the news, the NJEA and Senate President Sweeney are said to be pushing through legislative cuts to employee contributions to health insurance that eliminates negotiations, disenfranchises Boards of Education, renders the New Jersey School Board Association less relevant and disables the supposedly sacrosanct collective bargaining process.

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The legislation takes a major trend with how new employees are already being covered by health insurance, repackages it as a 'new idea' and uses that head fake to increase the financial burden to local taxpayers for the near and long term. I urge any sponsor or co-sponsor to make sure they read this before signing on. The vote will be counted by overburdened taxpayers.

Key point: By the dozens, local union contracts with local units from Teamsters, PBA, FMBA, AFSMCE, CWA and many others are - already - voluntarily, through negotiation, placing new employees in more cost effective plans. It is happening every month across the state with Chapter 78 contributions. Meaning, new employees receive quality less expensive insurance if they want the job. In addition, they make a contribution based on the Chapter 78 contribution schedules based on medical premium.

Many public sector leaders have already negotiated these agreements in mutual partnership with unions referenced. Its working great and saving money with each new employee. It's not new.

Now, Sweeney and the NJEA want to mandate, not negotiate, that new employees receive a more cost effective plan (that's already done) and, for this, mandate a massive shift to taxpayers with an estimated 171 million dollar hit per year. This can cost taxpayers nearly a billion in 5 years with medical trend based on 114,000 covered statewide with an average premium calculation.

Key recommendation: Do not tie new employee plans to a massive tax hike. It defeats the fiscal purpose and interferes with the concept of collective bargaining.

New employee plan changes are already the trend. You can see dozens of examples of contracts that show precisely this at the PERC website.  It's not a new idea and there is no need to provide a 171 million taxpayer funded windfall.

My recommendation is to pause and provide the public and the legislature the time, resources and information to make an educated decision. Be able to openly debate the merits and vote accordingly. Ramming this tax hike through during a global pandemic would be truly unfair indeed.

Note: The comments here are as a resident and not in any official capacity.    Editor's Note: Terence Wall is the husband of TAPinto Holmdel/Colts Neck publisher, Jeanne Wall.