O’Toole Urges Swift Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Enhance NJ’s Judicial, Executive & Legislative Branches
Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-40) urged the swift passage of bipartisan S-2851 that he sponsors to enhance public service and provide fundamental fairness in New Jersey by attracting and retaining qualified judges, experienced state department leaders and proven legislative branch personnel.
“Clerks, tax assessors, mayors, freeholders, teachers, firefighters, police and sundry other public employees have received raises – even annual raises – while we’ve seen many important and effective public officials leave to the detriment of the people, simply because we have failed to come even close to keeping our compensation on par with the rising costs of living,” Senator O’Toole said. “Particularly as New Jersey implements a national model for criminal justice reform enacted under the Christie administration, we need the ability to attract and retain a higher caliber of public servant than we are able to now in the judicial, legislative and executive branches. In the past two decades that New Jersey has fallen behind in compensating these critical positions, other states and the federal government have provided reasonable pay raises, at least keeping up with inflation.”
NJ needs to attract & retain qualified judges, experienced department heads and proven legislative branch personnel https://t.co/87UVnT92ti
— Sen. Kevin O'Toole (@kevinjotoole) December 14, 2016
Below are the components proposed in S-2851:
- Increase judicial salaries over a two year period beginning in 2017 at a rate of 3% annually, and then adjusting thereafter annually based upon CPI;
- Permits a sitting Governor to pay cabinet officers and senior executive staff on a scale of up to $175,000;
- Permits any State officer to receive compensation for books or published works; and
- Increase staff salary allocation, per legislator, by $30,000.
The pay rate for New Jersey judges has not increased since January 2009 and, due to their increased benefits contributions, judges’ net pay is now lower than it was in January 2007. The salary of New Jersey judges has remained flat in the past seven years, while the income of a federal judge has increased by about 15 percent in that time.
Executive branch cabinet members who head New Jersey state departments have not seen a raise since 2005. Also, the total salary allocation per legislator for staff has remained at $110,000 since 2002, meaning many staff members who deal daily with constituents to solve individual, family, regional and state issues have either received no raise despite inflation and higher costs or exited public service to support themselves and their families.
If judges’ salaries, for example, kept pace with inflation since 2009, they would be making $184,228 compared to federal judges’ current salaries of $203,100. Bipartisan S-2851 would increase New Jersey judges’ and executive cabinet members’ salaries to $175,000.
“This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue, this is to ensure we are able to attract and retain the best and brightest to serve the people of New Jersey,” Senator O’Toole said.
Another competitive component of S-2851 is to allow New Jersey’s executive members to author and have their books published.
“This is not a unique provision, it’s simply a First Amendment right that has been denied in New Jersey,” O’Toole said. “Just as then-Senator Barack Obama, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Cory Booker, then-Senator John F. Kennedy, Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Harry Reid, Senator Robert Menendez, Senator John McCain, Senator Diane Feinstein, Senator Evan Bayh, Senator Bill Bradley, Senator Elizabeth Warren, the late Senator John Glenn, Governor Bill Richardson, and Governor Scott Walker, to name a few, have all published books while in office.”