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N.J. high court exempts judges from greater contributions to health care, pension

New Jersey’s Supreme Court has ruled that judges do not have to contribute more to their pensions and health-care benefits.

The 3-2 decision came in challenge to a law passed last year that requires increased contributions by hundreds of thousands of state workers.

The court’s majority ruled it’s an employer-generated reduction in the take-home pay of judges that violates a constitutional provision preventing their salaries from being cut.

Senate President Steve Sweeney expects the Legislature will move quickly on a constitutional amendment that would permit the higher contributions.

“I fought for the last two and half years to protect the independence of the courts, but I can’t stand by while every other employee of the state is paying more and the judges, who I have a great deal of respect for, pay less,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester. “It’s not fair.”

Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean says the judicial pension system is in dire financial trouble. It will be a tremendous burden to taxpayers without increased contributions from the judges, says Kean, R-Union.

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