TRENTON – New Jersey Education Association officers, President Marie Blistan, Vice President Sean M. Spiller and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty issued the following statement in response to the working group’s report, which they denounced as a closed door process:
“It’s unfortunate, but not surprising, that Sen. Sweeney’s hand-picked group came up with recommendations that reflect the approach he has taken throughout his decade as senate president. The report glosses over the state’s failure to meet its obligations and get its fiscal house in order, and instead proposes making public employees pay more for reduced benefits.
“That is exactly what Sweeney did in 2011 as the architect and lead cheerleader for a so-called pension and benefit reform law called Ch. 78. As a result of that law, NJEA members have contributed more to both their pensions and health benefits every year for the last eight years. This year, an average New Jersey teacher with a family will contribute more than $5,200 to the pension system and more than $8,800 toward medical benefits. That is $14,000 contributed before any out-of-pocket medical expenses are calculated. For that, those members already will receive a dramatically reduced pension. Despite all of that, NJEA members have paid every dollar demanded by that law. Asking school employees and retirees to pay even more, while further reducing the quality of their pension and health benefits, is unfair, unreasonable and unconscionable.”