Governor Christie’s budget raises some immediate issues, particularly for our state worker members:
- Contribute $2.5 billion to the pension this budget. We approve. This is the amount that would have been contributed under the Constitutional Amendment.
- Transfer the “asset” that is the state lottery into the pension plan, thus reducing the unfunded liability and creating a dedicated funding stream into the plan in addition to pension payments. Is this legal? How is the asset valued? How are the services currently funded through the lottery then paid for through general funds. The devil is in the details.CWA’s actuary and lawyer are reviewing this matter and we will determine what other information we need to evaluate whether or not this is a proposal that we can consider.
- Squeeze another $125 million in savings from the State Health Benefits Plan. We oppose this.
- Have a healthcare out-of-network proposal that includes “transparency” only. We strenuously oppose this. This means that in an emergency situation, you could be charged out-of-network costs if they notified you that the emergency procedure you need was out of network. No. We, along with all of the consumer and healthcare alliance allies, only support out-of-network where there is NO BALANCED BILLING for emergency services.
- School Funding: Watch this very carefully, as this can easily blow up the entire budget. We support our allies in the community and in the school employees unions.
We will review the entire budget very carefully and we will keep you informed about lobby days and other budget activities.