Supreme Court Hears COLA Case; Pay Equity Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk

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The New Jersey Supreme Court held oral arguments Monday in a case brought by public retirees over the indefinite suspension of cost-of-living adjustments to their pensions. The Senate and Assembly held full voting sessions, and advocates for gender pay equity held a press conference to urge the governor to sign the legislation.

Here is a rundown of the action:

COLA Case. Attorneys for public-sector retirees argued that cost-of-living adjustments are part of their pension benefits package to which they have a contractual right that cannot be taken away. Cost-of-living adjustments were eliminated in 2011, triggering the lawsuit. Lower courts have ruled in favor of the retirees. The case will be decided by June 30.  

Pay Equity (S-992/A-2750). The bill to help ensure that women do not experience gender discrimination in matters involving salary easily passed the Assembly and now heads to Gov. Christie’s desk. The bill amends the Law Against Discrimination to prevent employers from paying women less for performing equal work and to forbid employers from lowering wages to comply with the law. This is not a party issue; it is a workers’ issue. It’s not a women’s issue; it’s an issue for working families.

The vote was 53-14 with 6 abstentions.

Before the voting session, New Jersey State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Laurel Brennan joined legislative leaders, including Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, to advocate for the bill.

Earned Income Tax Credit (A-40). This bill increases the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 40 percent of the federal benefit amount beginning next year. The state and federal EITC programs are designed to offset payroll taxes for low- and moderate-income workers.

The vote was 51 to 22 with 4 abstentions.

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