S-2606, long-awaited legislation that would tie public employees’ premium share for health benefits to a percentage of their salary instead of the premium has been introduced. Some districts have already opted in, through collective bargaining, to format their contributions in the manner.
This bill, sponsored by Senator Joe Cryan, would reduce the amount most NJEA members pay toward their health insurance and return fairness to the bargaining table. An unintended consequence of Chapter 78 is that many school employees have seen declining take-home pay since 2011. Since the sunset of this law, local associations have tried to bargain down the premium share with only limited success.
Under Governor Christie, school districts saw eight years of under-funding at the same time they were constrained by a 2% property tax cap. Member premium sharing allowed districts to balance their budgets, making changes difficult to bargain. S-2606 will cap premium sharing at a percentage of salary, not the cost of the premium. It will also allow districts to exempt the health benefits premium relief from the 2% property tax cap. In addition, it requires more transparency around health benefits. Write to your Senator today, and ask him or her to support collective bargaining and school employees by joining as a co-sponsor of S-2606.