New Jersey may give police, fire unions full control over pensions

A bill advancing in the New Jersey Legislature would authorize the state’s police and firefighters unions to manage their own pension funds. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

A bill advancing in the New Jersey Legislature would authorize the state’s police and firefighters unions to manage their own pension funds. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

A bill advancing in the New Jersey Legislature would authorize the state’s police and firefighters unions to manage their own pension funds.

Pat Colligan, the president of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, said the policy change would help the unions improve the performance of their funds.

“We’re looking to just modernize and be able roll into different investments as the markets dictate, make faster decisions,” he said.

Former Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a similar bill last year.

Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor Peter Woolley said it’s one of many bills that majority Democrats are bringing back, hoping that Gov. Phil Murphy, a fellow Democrat, will sign them.

“I think this is going to take up a lot of the Legislature’s time. I think they’ve been anticipating this opportunity for many months, even years, and now is the time,” Woolley said. “The iron is hot. They will strike.”

While Democrats appear united in trying to reverse Christie’s actions, Seton Hall public affairs professor Matthew Hale said that could change when lawmakers take up major policy issues.

“All of the things that we’re seeing right now are things that Democrats have wanted, that are important, but they’re not sort of the core plans of either Phil Murphy or [Senate President] Steve Sweeney,” Hale said. “So, we’ll see what happens when we get to the big-ticket items.’

All the time spent on bringing back bills that Christie rejected could be devoted to tackling other issues, said Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison.

“Whether that is the economy, whether it is true pension and budget reform, at least negotiations or talks about that,” she said. “Doing things that would create a positive revenue stream, or at least planning for those things, so when it comes to the budget we’re not in a crisis situation.”

Murphy will deliver his first state budget plan to the Legislature next month.

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