Chapter 78: Why you are earning less?
When Gov. Chris Christie signed PL 2011 Chapter 78 into law on June 28, 2011, he set a chain of events into effect that would ultimately reduce the take-home pay of public employees.
In addition to increases in pension contributions, Chapter 78 also mandated that employees pay a percentage of their health insurance premium. Depending on plan choices, level of coverage, and salary, the employee contribution ranges from 3% of the premium to 35% of the premium and is never less than 1.5% of the employee’s base salary. When an employee’s salary increases, the contribution may jump to another level of premium sharing, resulting in the pay raise being reduced, negated, or, even worse, decreased. Further, whenever there is a premium increase, a member’s contribution subsequently increases further reducing take-home pay.
As a result, NJEA members are seeing significant decreases in take-home pay and that’s having devastating consequences on them and their families. Some are unable to meet their basic financial obligations like mortgage, rent, and car payments. Others are taking on added debt like short-term loans and increased use of credit cards. While the overall economy is improving, our members are doing worse. Their salaries are not keeping up with the escalating costs associated with Chapter 78.
NJEA locals are working to try to contain costs and reverse some of the negative effects of Chapter 78 at the bargaining table. But we must also educate legislators about the consequences of Chapter 78 on working families.