Springing Into Action
As we enjoy the spring of 2017, we must remember our 140 heroes in blue who gave their lives to protect the citizens of this great nation. This year, during the National FOP Memorial Service, an additional 70 officers will be honored. These officers died as a result of diseases caused by the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and it is time to honor them as the heroes they are. May God bless all our heroes.
I would like to thank James Ford, the chairman of the Education and Training Committee, for coordinating and conducting an excellent training event at the annual NJ FOP Mini-Convention held in Atlantic City. The committee, along with Anthony Fusco, worked tirelessly for a full year to provide this event for over 250 brothers and sisters to attend — job well done!
Our investigation into the possibility of the separation of our pension system from other state pensions has moved forward very briskly. As president, I called for a special Board of Directors meeting of the State Lodge to determine our position on this pension issue at the end of January. I had NJ FMBA President Ed Donnelly, NJSPBA President Pat Colligan, former Pension Director Fred Beaver and NJSPBA lobbyist Rob Nixon in attendance. They gave a presentation on the draft proposal. After the presentation, a secret ballot vote was taken and yielded a result of 64–8 to support the draft. The three units, FOP, FMBA and PBA, worked during the month of February to have the bill introduced. The bill was presented to the Senate by State Senate President Steve Sweeney as S3040 on February 27. The bill was then immediately assigned to the Senate Appropriations and Budget Committee on Thursday, March 9, during which time all three state presidents testified. The bill was voted out of committee (10–1 with two abstaining) to move to a full Senate vote. The full Senate vote was held on Monday, March 13, and was 37–0 in support. After this vote, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto introduced the bill to the Assembly as A99 on Thursday, March 16. The speaker assigned the bill to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and again all three state presidents testified. It passed on Monday, March 20, by 13–0. After being voted out of the committee, A99 went to a full Assembly vote on Thursday, March 23, and passed (61–4 with 10 abstaining).
The bill is now on the governor’s desk, and he needs to take action before mid-May. As we all know, Governor Christie has been saying since his first term that the state should not be in the “pension business,” but we know his word means nothing. I personally believe that he will conditionally veto the bill, which means he can change the bill with his concerns and send it back to us for acceptance or not. If we don’t agree with his changes, we will wait for the next governor and go through the same process to get it on his or her desk. We will wait and see how this plays out.
In closing, the attacks on our law enforcement community continue to increase. Please watch out for each other, so we can return home to our families each night as most other professions do.