The Pension and Health Benefits Reform bill could automatically become law on May 10. The measure, strongly supported by NJSBA, received final legislation approval in February.
Waiver of Coverage S-17 would give school districts the ability to offer employees incentives to waive their coverage under the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP). About 40 percent of the state’s public school districts currently participate in the program.
Municipalities have had the waiver incentive option since 1995, municipal authorities since 2001 and county colleges since 2003. The same flexibility would benefit school districts during contract negotiations.
Better Negotiations “Board members have been asking for this option for as long as I recall,” said Mike Vrancik, NJSBA director of governmental relations. “It would give our members the ability to negotiate better contracts, and it would save districts money.”
The waiver incentives would complement SHBP reforms enacted through another bill, A-1. Those reforms include allowing employee contribution to premiums and variations in coverage levels for different classifications of employees, based on date of initial employment, salary and other factors.
In addition to SHBP reform, S-17 would prohibit individuals who have professional services contracts with government entities and school districts from participating in the Public Employees’ Retirement System.
Governor’s Option S-17 is the last education-related special session bill still awaiting enactment. The state constitution provides that, if the governor does not take action on a bill within a certain period of time, it automatically becomes law.
The governor has four options: take no action and allow the bill to automatically become law; sign it into law before Thursday; veto the measure; or send it back to the Legislature seeking changes (a “conditional veto”).