Governor Chris Christie Continues to Encourage Shared Sacrifice to Preserve School Employee Jobs During Economic and Budgetary Difficulties

Governor Conditionally Vetoes S1940 to Provide Needed Clarity in Scope and Definition of Wage Concession Agreements

Trenton, NJ –  Governor Chris Christie today conditionally vetoed S1940 to provide needed changes to ensure the bill will serve to encourage shared sacrifice through wage and benefit concessions in labor agreements, rather than act as an impediment. The Governor’s recommended changes address overly broad, problematic provisions in the law which, as written, may actually deter school districts and local unions from engaging in wage and benefit concessions. Under Governor Christie’s conditional veto, the bill will now provide needed clarity in the law to ensure that local school districts and unions have a common and clear basis that will encourage them to participate in the shared sacrifice needed to restore the state’s fiscal health. In an effort to help ameliorate the impact of spending reductions, and to prevent layoffs, Governor Christie called on school districts and local teachers’ bargaining units to share in the sacrifice last year by agreeing to a one-year pay freeze and to contribute 1.5 percent of their salary toward the cost of their health insurance. 

“While I commend the sponsors for attempting to facilitate the preservation of school employee positions during this difficult economic time, I am concerned that this bill, as currently written, goes well beyond the situation which the sponsors were attempting to address. Unlike the situation facing the State which prompted this legislation, this bill is not limited to a one-year concession in the middle of a collective bargaining agreement for the sole purpose of preventing layoffs due to a fiscal crisis,” said Governor Christie.  “I am also concerned that this bill will produce several other adverse consequences. For example, this bill could be interpreted to require school boards to negotiate with collective bargaining units any time the district looks to reduce staff, even when the district has identified a justifiable need to do so for non-economic reasons, such as decreased student enrollment.

“Rather than encouraging shared sacrifice and cooperation, this lack of clarity will likely breed disputes and legal challenges, ultimately discouraging the shared sacrifice needed to address our fiscal challenges. Despite these concerns, I recognize that in these particularly challenging times there is a need to encourage and support teachers and other school employees to make sacrifices in order to help preserve teaching positions, maintain school programs, and support the overall education of our students. School employees who admirably choose to make a sacrifice should feel assured that any savings achieved through their concessions will only be used for the agreed-upon purpose of maintaining other positions,” concluded Governor Christie.

The Governor’s changes to the legislation will eliminate uncertainty in the bill and ensure that efforts made to meet the call for shared sacrifice through wage and benefit concessions are used to save jobs and overcome budgetary challenges faced by school districts. Among other issues, the bill as written includes overly broad and unclear provisions that would negatively impact a district’s ability to manage its workforce in the future and potentially impact future collective bargaining negotiations beyond the year of the employees’ concession. 

In addition, Governor Christie today issued conditional vetoes to Senate Bills 189 and 1841, legislation addressing the use of “bump keys” in burglaries and the classification of investigators employed by the Department of Corrections, respectively. 

Citing existing law that already provides for punishment of the possession of any “engine, machine, tool or implement adapted, designed or commonly used for committing or facilitating… forcible entry into premises,” the Governor noted that S189 does nothing new to deter burglaries in New Jersey by merely adding a specific prohibition to the possession of “bump keys” that is already covered by current law. Governor Christie’s conditional veto would better deter the problem of residential burglary in New Jersey by making it a second degree offense and requiring that at least 85 percent of such burglary sentences be served.

S1841 sought to “clarify” that investigators employed by the New Jersey Department of Corrections are, in fact, police officers. The purported clarification, however, actually imposes substantial changes to powers and authority of these investigators, amending the civil service title series and collapsing all of the existing ranks in the unit into a single new position, without considering these changes in the context of statewide law enforcement efforts. 

Governor Christie’s conditional veto of S1841 provides for the creation of a study commission to review and examine law enforcement functions in the executive branch of state government, and to provide recommendations about the feasibility of consolidation, absorption, or elimination of various policing functions, before changes are made to the structure or definition of investigator positions in the Department of Corrections, or other state executive branch policing entities. Currently, state government’s law enforcement system is a complicated and decentralized patchwork of officers and investigators across a number of state agencies, often without clearly understood lines of authority. 

Copies of the three conditional vetoes issued today :

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Press Contact:
Michael Drewniak
Kevin Roberts

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