Suppose you and your boss have agreed to a fair salary. You do a satisfactory job. You get compensated for your efforts.
Now suppose a percentage of your compensation is deposited in a 401(K) or similar account. It’s still your money. While there are tax implications on when and how you obtain that money, it’s still yours – payment by your employer for work performed. Anyone else who takes that money is doing nothing less than robbing you of one of your assets. If you leave your job, you’re able to negotiate another job with a different set of salary and benefits. The money you saved up from your previous job is still yours.
Since he took office, Governor Christie has robbed public employees of their deferred compensation. This is nothing less than breach of contract. And now, the Republican Burlington County Board of Freeholders is channeling the worst of Christie for blatantly political means.
Last night, the Freeholders passed a resolution stating that anyone receiving a public pension cannot be hired by the county. The only reason they passed this resolution is because a Democrat, Jim Kostopolis, is running for Sheriff and is currently collecting a pension from his previous law enforcement gigs. (It should be noted that his opponent has no experience as a law enforcement officer).
By statute, the compensation for the position of Burlington County Sheriff is $120,000 per year. You can argue all day whether that is too high, too low, or just right. The point is, if someone is doing the job as sheriff, they are compensated for that work – whether or not they have other sources of income.
It’s popular to rail against “double-dipping” because it implies that people are getting something for nothing. But pensions are nothing more than deferred earned compensation. If pension benefits need to be reformed, that’s fine. But don’t do it retroactively. That’s nothing less than breach of contract.
The resolution passed last night not only is political grandstanding, but also will hurt down the line. People whose years of public sector experience who could benefit the citizens of Burlington County would think twice before accepting a job there. Military veterans may be precluded from leveraging their knowledge and work ethic from serving county residents. The same is true for retired teachers and others who have served the people of the county or state.
Perhaps if the Freeholders truly wanted to save taxpayer money, they should first look inward at the rampant pay-to-play no-bid contracts they award to their donors. Or the new “jobs” they create at the county college for their cronies. Or the millions of dollars they awarded to their contractors to repair a critical county bridge before closing it for good.
Hypocrisy is alive and well in the county building in Mount Holly.