Remembering Our Finest, Preparing for November
As we reflect upon the National Police Week that has just ended, let’s never forget the 128 members of the law enforcement community who made the supreme sacrifice for the citizens of this great country. These officers in blue whom we honored this year are the true heroes of our communities. Also, let’s not forget their families, who return home from Washington, D.C., without their loved ones, only their memories.
I am happy to report that oral arguments regarding the reinstatement of the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) finally took place in the New Jersey Supreme Court on Monday, March 14. The 90-minute hearing focused on just one issue. The state argued that the COLA is an added benefit to your pension benefits, so it can be eliminated or reduced by the Legislature. The unions argued that the COLA is part of your pension benefit and can’t be eliminated or reduced by the Legislature. Once this issue is decided by the state Supreme Court, there will be several other court hearings to try to resolve the COLA reinstatement issue. We are expecting the decision from the New Jersey Supreme Court in late May or June.
Another important issue we are working on with all the public unions is putting a constitutional amendment to fund our pensions on the November 2016 ballot. We plan to have it introduced to the Assembly and Senate in late May or the beginning of June. Once the newly elected Legislature approves it, it will go on the November 2016 ballot. This amendment, if passed by the people, would require the state to fully fund our pensions, similar to the funding plan that was agreed upon in the Chapter 78 law. This constitutional amendment would also mandate the state to make quarterly payments. The major impact of this constitutional amendment would be that the Governor could not change the funding plan, as he does now.
We need to get all of our FOP members, family members and friends registered to vote and supportive of this amendment. I suggest that each FOP lodge form a voters’ notification committee to call all of their members on the day before the election to remind them to get out to vote for this amendment. This is our best chance to end the pension problems forever.
I would like to thank the Educational and Training Committee for a well-run Mini-Convention, held in March in Atlantic City. I have received many positive comments on the new training that was added this year.
After all of the hard work by the Legislative Committee in fighting the five-year residency bill, it has been reintroduced into this session. I will say the support it had last year has dwindled, and I do not believe it will pass both houses as it did last year.
It’s a tough time for the law enforcement community today on the streets. Be safe and remember that every situation has the potential of being recorded and scrutinized.