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News

Attention Local Presidents!

The State PBA will conduct a training class for Local PBA presidents on Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.  If you are interested in attending, please send an e-mail to info@njspba.com with your name and local information.  Class is limited to 40 people.

$40,000 in Rewards Posted in Two Cases of Shooting at Police

NEW JERSEY STATE POLICEMEN'S BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION
NJ COP SHOT REWARD PROGRAM ACTIVATED IN TWO CASES

A total of $40,000 dollars is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects responsible for shooting at police officers in the past two days. The shootings took place in West Deptford and in Bridgeton. New Jersey State PBA President Patrick Colligan called the recent events “outrageous” and asked for the public’s help in finding the suspects responsible. President Colligan said, "For the past two days officers have been targeted for attack in this State and we will not stand for it. The shooting at police while in their headquarters or standing on a street corner is something that every law abiding citizen should be outraged at."

In each case the NJ COP SHOT program is posting a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects responsible.

In the West Deptford case, seven high-caliber rounds were fired at the police station at about 4:05 a.m. Tuesday in a drive-by shooting. A vehicle police describe as a small, black compact sedan is seen on surveillance video driving through the station's parking lot twice while the shots are being fired. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Detective Sgt. Michael Cramer at 856-853-4599, ext. 164. The total reward money in the case has risen to over $27,000 dollars including the money from the NJ COP SHOT program.

In Bridgeton, four officers came under gun fire at 1:12am Wednesday morning. Officers were on North Street conducting a follow up investigation when someone started shooting at them. All the officers took cover and were uninjured. The suspect fled on foot. Anyone with information on this case is asked to call (856) 451-0033 extension 0. The total reward in this case is $20,000.
Colligan said, "There is no way that someone does not know who is responsible for these crimes. It is my hope the reward will provide enough incentive for someone to come forward."

State PBA and NAPO Tackle Social Security Penalty Law

Many PBA members, especially those who are not covered by Social Security while working as law enforcement officers but who have earned Social Security benefits through another job, are often shocked to learn in retirement that those Social Security benefits are reduced by federal law when they reach federal retirement age.  In addition, those officers impacted by this federal law are also blocked from receiving the Social Security "survivor's benefits" when their spouse passes away. The State PBA, working through our national group, the National Association of Police Organizations, has been lobbying Congress for several years to eliminate this unjust penalty.
 
There is currently legislation in Congress, Senate Bill 896/H.R. 1795, that would address our concerns.  We are fortunate that a bipartisan group of New Jersey representatives are co-sponsors of the bills (Sen. Menendez, Rep. Lance (R-7), Rep. LoBiondo (R-2), Rep. Pallone (D-6), Rep. Runyan (R-3) and Rep. Sires (D-8).  State PBA members and retirees who are concerned about this retirement penalty should call their Members of Congress and request their support for passage of this priority legislation.

For your information, the following background on the issue can be found in the NAPO Legislative Priority book for the 113th Congress (www.napo.org) and members should use it as a guide to learn the issue and problems at stake:

GOVERNMENT PENSION OFFSET (GPO) AND WINDFALL ELIMINATION PROVISION (WEP) 
 
Background :  The Government Pension Offset (GPO) reduces public employees’ Social Security spousal or survivor benefit by two-thirds of their public pension, and often leads to negative effects on law enforcement officers’ retirements.  If a spouse who paid into Social Security dies, the surviving public safety officer would normally be eligible for half of the deceased’s benefit.  However, if the surviving law enforcement officer had not been paying into Social Security while working, the GPO requires that this amount be offset by two-thirds of the survivor’s pension, eliminating most, or all of the payment. 
 
Because of their profession, many law enforcement officers do not pay into Social Security; however, if they had not served at all, they would receive the full allotment of the spouse’s benefit.   In addition to the GPO, public safety employees are also adversely affected by the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).  Although most law enforcement officers retire after a specific length of service, usually while in their early to mid-fifties, many look for new opportunities to serve their communities.  Yet, when they retire from a non-Social Security paying job and move to one that does pay into Social Security, they are penalized by WEP.  Instead of receiving their rightfully earned Social Security retirement benefit, their pension heavily offsets it, thus vastly reducing the amount they receive.   
 
GPO and WEP were intended to be “leveling” responses, but only serve to hurt public safety officers.  Nine out of ten public employees affected by the GPO lose their entire spousal benefit, even though their spouses paid Social Security for many years.  The WEP causes hard-working public safety officers to lose the benefits they earned themselves, thus punishing those who selflessly serve and protect our communities. 

NAPO Position :  The loss of income caused by GPO and WEP is a financial strain on law enforcement officers and their families, an additional strain that those who spent their careers on the front lines protecting our nation’s communities do not need.  By significantly scaling back and reducing social security benefits for law enforcement officers and their survivors, as GPO and WEP do, officers and their families are provided much less protection against financial difficulties.  This is no way to honor those who have chosen to serve our nation and its communities. 
 
Law enforcement officers and public employees across the United States are concerned about their retirement benefits and the impact of GPO and WEP.  NAPO supports efforts to totally repeal GPO and WEP from Title II of the Social Security Act, and will continue to actively work to see the passage of this legislation.

View the NAPO Letter Of Support for the Social Security Fairness Act

"20 and out" Law Interpretation Update

As PBA members are aware, the State PBA successfully lobbied for a law in 2000 to create parity in certain pension benefits with the State Police Retirement System, including permission for a member to retire at 20 years of service with a 50% benefit (20 and out). The law was implemented without question until a recent State AG/Division of Pensions change in interpretation severely limited access to the law for anyone hired after January 2000.
 
The State PBA, through our PFRS Trustees, have been debating this change of interpretation with the Division. But the State PBA, as the group that drafted the original language the law is based on, has taken the dispute back to the Legislature.
 
Senator Diane Allen (R-7), who was prime sponsor of the original law containing 20 and out language, recently joined the State PBA in expressing opposition to State's change in implementation of the law. As such, she has written the attached letter to the Division opposing their incorrect analysis of the law.
 
The State PBA is grateful to Senator Allen for standing behind a law we worked hard with her to pass so many years ago. The State PBA will update members when we receive an update on our efforts here.

View Senator Diane Allen (R-7) Letter To Division Here

New Jersey State PBA President Patrick Colligan Responds to Governor’s Call for Independent Pension Study Commission

The Governor announced today that he is forming a “non-partisan” independent study commission to analyze the pension system and to make further recommendations for pension cuts.  The group, whose membership was not announced, will be tasked with looking at pension and health benefit management in other States and in the private sector.  It is likely that this group will be handpicked to provide an “outsider” stamp for the Governor’s recent demand that further benefit cuts are necessary.


PBA members will remember that in 2004 then Governor Codey appointed an independent study commission known as the “Murphy Commission” who, in addition to calling for some pension changes, found that the single most important factor in strengthening the pension fund is for government to make 100% of its payments.  Ten years later, and billions lost in government contributions and investment gains from it, and the same failure to make a full pension payments remains the greatest obstacle for the growth of the pension fund.

 
The State PBA will be carefully monitoring the situation and will be prepared to challenge the “expert” commission’s findings and we are prepared to utilize the results and advice from our own actuary study due out in August.  What is certain is that PFRS remains a healthy, economically sound pension fund and there is little need to further erode benefits for New Jersey’s law enforcement community.

 

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NJ Cops Magazine

August 2014 Back Issues

President's Message

Patrick Colligan, NJSPBA President Patrick Colligan, President "Pension Study Commission"
- Cheat Sheet

Executive Order No. 161 was hand delivered by the governor Aug. 1 on the steps of the Parsippany Municipal building at 1 p.m. In effect, it officially forms the non-partisan “New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission,” hereinafter known as the “Study Commission.”

Thirty days after organizing, the commission is required to deliver a status report and will issue a report on its findings and recommendations "as soon as possible."  It is now Friday afternoon at 2:47 p.m. at the State PBA Office in Woodbridge. The office will observe our summer hours and be closing in 13 minutes. I have just officially commissioned myself (with 13 minutes to go) to issue my own findings and recommendations. If the "Study Commission" wants a cheat sheet, here it is:

1. Chapter 78 (a law as defined by the Constitution) was signed on June 11, 2008 by Gov. Christie requiring in very specific terms how he must fund the pension.

FINDINGS: Please advise Gov. Christie to comply with the law that he signed.

2. Chapter 78 required an additional 1½-percent contribution of PFRS employees to the system for a total of 10-percent employee contributions (probably the highest in the nation). It generated another $57 million. In March, the governor gave more than $50 million back to local governments and called it “tax relief”.

FINDINGS: That’s our money. We earned it and it was deducted from our paychecks. Please put it back into the PFRS system.

3. Want to explore a “Hybrid Pension System?” Similar to a 401K, “Hybrid Pensions" have to be paid by the state with each and every paycheck.

FINDINGS:  The state doesn't pay its pension bills now with a signed law in place! Who do we call when the Hybrid payments aren't made every two weeks? Can I tell my members that at least I got a pinkie swear?

4. New Jersey now ranks second in the country for investments in high-risk, highfee hedge funds in their state pension funds. Well-known political donors and high priced "investment advisors" are raking in $1.2 billion in fees and commissions.

FINDINGS: $1.2 billion performs better in our portfolio than in a millionaire’s bank account and those high- risk hedge funds are returning lower yields than traditional investments that don't pad donor’s pockets.

5. In 2005, Acting Governor Richard Codey formed a Benefits Review Task Force to try and resolve the unfunded pension issues. The task force subsequently released a comprehensive document called the Murphy Report. Anybody care to guess what was suggestion No. 1? For the state to start “paying up and ending the gimmicks.” That Murphy strikes me as a pretty smart guy.

FINDINGS: The "Study Commission" should find that Murphy Report, photocopy it and call it the “2014 New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission.” Your work was done already in 2005. No need to reinvent the wheel folks.

6. Last month, the governor's office released a "No Pain, No Gain" movie trailer that shamefully mocked every hard-working public employee in the state (the ones that have made every single payment into the pension). That movie trailer wasn't cobbled together in a few minutes on a laptop. It took a lot of time and state resources.

FINDINGS: Somebody has too much free time and lots of extra money in their budget. Immediately transfer them to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority or the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The last time I looked at the governor's performance numbers, I think those two departments could definitely use the help. The new "Study Commission" could probably use their creativity too.

7. The public pensions throughout the country that are performing the best are truly run by their membership. Investments are made by a committee with their skin in the game. ALL their skin! New Jersey has an Investment Council with very little influence on how and where our investments are made. The director is appointed by the treasurer; the treasurer is nominated by the governor.

FINDINGS: Legislate a change to our Investment Council and give it some teeth. Let US decide who gets OUR money and what kind of risk and fees we want to pay. It should not be in the hands of a person politically connected to a sitting governor - ANY sitting Governor.  The time is now 3:08 p.m. I am now disbanding my commission after 21 minutes of work resolving the New Jersey pension crisis. I really wish I could say that this is in jest and an exaggeration, but unfortunately and sadly it isn't. The work and the research really have been done already. All the answers are well known to everybody. My job right now is to make sure that whoever is sitting at this desk a decade from now will not be dealing with yet another "new" commission from another governor that has to deal with an unfunded pension.  Fool us all Mr. Governor; make a quarterly payment and show us some good faith. Some politicians just break promises. Not making these payments is breaking the law.

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