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HomenewsThere is a Last-ditch Effort Being Made by Municipal Authorities and Unions...

There is a Last-ditch Effort Being Made by Municipal Authorities and Unions in New Jersey to Prevent a Tax Increase.

Officials from local governments and unions representing their employees are urging the state to invest $350 million to counteract a surge in health benefits expenses; they believe this must be done within two weeks, as the higher costs would take effect in January.

The coalition promises $100 million in annual cost reductions for the State Health Benefits Plan in exchange for what they claim to be a one-time payment.

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In addition, they claim that SHBP state treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio would have the authority to make modifications unilaterally if the plan design committee failed to provide the claimed savings.

The New Jersey Conference of Mayors’ president and mayor of East Windsor, Janice Mironov, said the labor and management partnership on the subject illustrates their shared goals and the need to curb rising costs.

Mironov argued that the large increases in health insurance costs were unjust to municipalities, counties, state employees, and taxpayers.

The Communications Workers of America’s New Jersey regional director, Fran Ehret, said that residents likely aren’t aware that the rising cost of health benefits will result in higher property taxes in 2023.

The limit on annual increases in tax levies of 2% does not apply to certain kinds of expenditures.

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According to Ehret, the data necessary to evaluate the factors driving the over 20% annual increase in healthcare expenses are not being made public.

She said that the insurance companies and hospitals that benefit from the current broken system should be the primary targets of efforts to cut costs.

Ehret argued that “moving costs to workers” was not a viable option. The answer simply cannot always be “that.”

According to Ehret, coalition members will be lobbying lawmakers this week.

To offset the cost of premium hikes for local businesses, they propose allocating $350 million from the state’s general fund surplus to the Department of Community Affairs Division of Local Government Services.

After the grant money is applied, employee contributions toward the cost of health care would increase by the same amount as the employer.

Local officials from both parties are feeling the effects of the premium hike on their budgets, so Kevin Lyons, director of benefits for the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, said coalition members want to work with Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature.

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The group “can do nothing,” Lyons emphasized. Otherwise, “taxpayers and workers will bear the brunt of the consequences.
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The groups are also pushing for a one-month extension of the open enrollment period for 2023 health benefits to offer employees more time to research their health plan alternatives and provide local businesses a chance to consider other possibilities.


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