Many state, county, and municipal employees will see a 22.8% increase in their health care costs on January 1, causing a crisis that could lead to “political consequence,” such as significant tax increases in 2023, according to a group of elected officials and public sector union leaders from both parties.
East Windsor Mayor and New Jersey Conference of Mayors Chair Janice Mironov remarked, “Towns would pay a hefty price.” Workers will be hurt and taxes will rise at all levels of government.
A one-time appropriation of $350 million is being sought by Mironov in negotiations with Governor Phil Murphy and legislative leaders “to counterbalance the massive increase,” he said.
She noted that following the recent changeover, “the state has a surplus of approximately billion and about a billion and a half” in COVID money and money from Blue Cross Blue Shield.
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The use of COVID funding in this manner is commendable. Communications Workers of America state director Fran Ehret claims that only New Jersey in the United States will see a 20% hike. According to Ehret, this range is often between 6% and 9% in other states.
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Ehret remarked, “It’s going to be a tremendous impact to dedicated public workers who have worked all through the COVID pandemic and were our first line responders and by and large we were subjected to being sick and having to take care of their families and having to face a pay cut in the midst of a recession is going to be extremely difficult for them.” “In all honesty, government employees would be punished twice because they pay taxes just like everyone else.”
The mayor of “financially challenged” Paterson, Andre Sayegh, has claimed that the state’s healthcare reform initiative is crucial to the city’s survival, and that rising medical expenditures could force the closure of essential public buildings like fire stations and libraries.
He remarked, “I also have to defend the taxpayers.” They’ve had annual raises before and can’t afford another one now.
However, neither local politicians or union leaders were willing to discuss the potential political repercussions that could arise in the next year as local taxpayers felt the effects of the price hikes.
“All I can say is that we’re doing our best to get across how dire the situation is. “From the AFL-point CIO’s of view, this isn’t a question,” Michael Cerra, executive director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, stated.
I’m not sure I want to get into the politics of this, but I will say that we want to work with both parties since this is about local government tax rises in a very challenging environment that we’re about to enter next year.
In addition to the upcoming 18% increase in state pension expenditures, the state has also seen premiums for health insurance skyrocket.