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New Jersey judge rejects challenges to new state pension and health insurance laws for public workers

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

A state judge has rejected state workers’ challenges to a new law that limits some of their pension benefits and forces new employees to begin paying 1.5 percent of their salaries toward their health insurance.

Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg said the contribution serves the public by offsetting government contributions toward health insurance. She added that the 1.5 percent pay-in can be waived by employees who decline health coverage under the state plan.

Police, firefighters and teachers argued that the health-care requirement infringes on collective bargaining — and is, in essence, a tax on government employees.

However, Feinberg ruled that the measure — signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie last May — is constitutional.

The State Firefighters’ Mutual Benefit Association’s lawyer, David Fox of Fox & Fox in Livingston, said he expects an appeal.

The New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association hasn’t indicated which direction it would take.

If they don’t appeal, or if all appeals are exhausted, police and firefighters in New Jersey will have to contribute to their health care costs for the first time ever — despite the dangers that their lawyers have argued should exempt them from such a requirement.

The pension law upheld by Feinberg affects new public employees, who will receive lower pensions on top of having to pay health benefits.

The state pension system, which also benefits local government employees, is underfunded by $46 billion after once topping out at nearly $100 billion.

FOR AN EXPLANATION OF WHY, SEE: Veteran cop takes on Christie, draws raves

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