TRENTON, N.J. — A cap on raises police and firefighter unions can get in certain contract disputes is now law — again.
The 2-percent limit on raises first became law in 2010 as part of the state’s effort to limit the growth of property taxes. The law expired this year at the end of March.
After weeks of negotiation, a bipartisan bill extending the cap emerged earlier this month. Governor Christie signed it at a ceremony outside the State House on Tuesday, surrounded by top Democratic and Republican legislative leaders.
“The arbitration cap has worked,” Christie said, citing a slower growth in property taxes in recent years.
“We’re continuing what we started and renewing the bipartisan arbitration cap, which is going to continue to rein in the cost of government and stem the property tax crisis on behalf of New Jersey’s overburdened taxpayers,” said Christie, a Republican.
The cap prevents police or fire unions that settle contract disputes in arbitration from winning raises of more than 2 percent.
The new law extends that cap until the end of 2017.
The bill passed unanimously in the Assembly and Senate earlier this month.
“The one thing I think we all agree on: Property taxes are a big problem in the state of New Jersey,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said. He called today’s extension of the cap “good, very good, for the taxpayers.”
Christie signed the original arbitration cap into law in 2010, the same year he also approved a 2 percent limit on hikes in local property tax levies. Both caps were major pieces of his platform to address New Jersey’s property tax bills, which are perennially among the highest in the country.
The governor pushed hard for extending the cap this year, but Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Secaucus, resisted reinstating the limit without some alterations.
The negotiated cap extension, among more minor changes, removes the “one and done” provision of the previous law, which required unions and arbitrators to adhere to the limit only once — after a union followed the 2 percent cap one time, it didn’t have to the next time it went to arbitration.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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