On Friday, June 30th at midnight, the NJ State Legislature found itself unable to settle on a budget for the fiscal year to start July 1st. CWA Locals, other public sector unions and political allies worked at the State House non-stop from June 26 through the end of the shutdown on July 4th fighting on behalf of our members and the important public services and facilities that New Jersey residents and visitors need.
The shutdown happened because Governor Christie threatened to veto over 70 budget amendments added by Democrats if they did not agree to reforms at Horizon allowing the State to have greater control over its finances. Democrats did not want their budget priorities vetoed, but some opposed letting the budget be held hostage to Christie’s call for Horizon reform. They argued the budget had a deadline of June 30th and the Horizon reform would benefit from more open debate and analysis, not tied to the budget negotiations.
After three days of government shutdown caused by this deadlock, Assembly Speaker Prieto crafted consensus to increase oversight of Horizon and get support for passing the budget. The shutdown ended in the early morning hours of July 4th.
Read more below...
Horizon Bill on Transparency & Governance S2 (Vitale/Prieto)
Passed the Assembly 71-2-0 and Senate 33-1
• Requires independent annual audits to determine Horizon's reserve level.
• Sets up a process for Horizon to use excess reserves to reduce policyholder premiums or otherwise benefit policyholders.
• Requires the appointment of two additional public members to Board of Directors – one each by the Senate President and the Assembly Speaker
• Increases transparency and reporting of financial information, including executive compensation. • Signed by Governor Christie on July 4, 2017
NJ Lottery Revenues Transferred to Pension Systems
S3312 (Sarlo/Schaer) Transfers State Lottery Enterprise to TPAF, PERS and PFRS.
Passed the Assembly 63-3-10 and Senate 36-2.
• Dedicates Lottery revenue as a contribution to the state pension funds. These revenues are not in addition to the State’s annual contribution, but in place of funds that would otherwise be paid from general treasury
• Signed by Governor Christie on July 4, 2017
State Budget for Fiscal Year 2018
A5000 (Schaer/Sarlo) Appropriates $34,670,313,000 in State funds and $15,823,846,768 in federal funds for the State budget for fiscal year 2017-2018. Passed the Assembly by 55-21-1 and Senate by 21-14. Line Item Veto by Governor Christie July 4, 2017
Listed below are priorities Democrats added to the Budget that were at risk of being red line vetoed by Governor Christie if he did not receive Horizon reform. This funding helps programs that serve vulnerable populations, supplies much needed school aid to all levels of education and gives resources to several of the programs where CWA Local 1036 members work. Here are some examples:
• $1.2 million to rectify historic underfunding of DEP Bureau of Marine Fisheries
• Language restoring “Heat & Eat” and Food Stamp benefits
• $500,000 to restore Housing First pilot program to aid the homeless
• $7.5 million for Family Planning Services
• $2.8 million for NJ Coalition Against Sexual Assault
$2.2 million for Domestic Violence and Rape Prevention