N.J. lawmakers could let fire and police unions manage their pension fund

N.J. State Capitol dome in Trenton (AP, file)

N.J. State Capitol dome in Trenton (AP, file)

A measure advanced by a New Jersey Senate committee would shift the management of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System from the state to the fund’s board of trustees.

Senate President Steve Sweeney is the primary sponsor of the legislation.

“I don’t think there’s anything more important than what we can do right now but to give the people that are putting their money into the pension fund the ability to basically manage their money.”

The two unions representing police in that pension system support the measure, but firefighter unions are split.

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Ed Donnelly, the president of the New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association, believes the change would be good for his members.

“There is a major pension problem here in New Jersey. We believe that our fund is in a different place. We believe that our fund is funded over 90 percent by local government who has been paying their bills.”

Dominick Marino, who leads the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, opposes the measure.

“We believe the union should not be involved in the pension system. It should be solid where it is with the state.”

There are concerns some unions might have more influence than others over the fund’s investments.

State Senator Jennifer Beck hopes the legislation can be tweaked to gain the support of all four unions.

“I do think that this is a good start and clearly we all agree Democrats and Republicans that we have a serious issue with our pension system and that the innovation here is a n opportunity to address the concern.”

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