We get the news from Charles Stile:
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg says she will block the reappointment of Stanley E. Wiklinski to the New Jersey Maritime Pilot and Docking Pilot Commission if he doesn’t agree to a 10 percent cut in pay and forgo pension and health benefits for a year.
Weinberg made the same threat last week to four Bergen County Tax Board members that Governor Corzine had recently nominated for reappointment. Wiklinski, a real estate agent who lives in Old Tappan, has been a longtime member of the board, which oversees the pilots that guide commercial vessels in New York Harbor.
The Senator, along with Sen. Beck, has been voting against all tax board appointments which have come before the Judiciary Committee as well as other part time boards & commissions before the Senate for the last month. She echoed the sentiments of furloughed state workers who say that the appointees have been left untouched while they are the target:
Weinberg says she simply doesn’t think taxpayers should be paying for benefits for part-time, political appointees – including positions held by prominent lobbyists – at a time when the state is furloughing workers, trimming benefits and cutting services.
“I know they work hard, they have to take educational requirements,” she said. But she reasoned: “So they work for $18,000 and pay a few thousand dollars for the privilege of staying in the public employee pension plan.”
This is just the latest skirmish for Weinberg on the issue of benefits for political appointees.
In recent months, Weinberg has taken aim at pay and benefits of political appointees. She argues that recession-weary taxpayers should not be subsidizing benefits for appointees who work at part-time boards and commissions.
Unable to move a bill that would rein-in benefits, Weinberg told The Record last week that she intends to use her unilateral “Senatorial Courtesy” power to block home-county nominees, if necessary, to force small, mostly symbolic concessions.
Weinberg’s bill which hasn’t gotten traction, is only a resolution urging, not even requiring:
This House urges members of boards, commissions, and authorities of the State, and of any political subdivision of the State, who provide service on a part-time basis that is equivalent to less than 25 hours of work per week and who receive a salary or a per diem payment for that service to waive, before June 30, 2009, the receipt of an amount equivalent to three months of the salary or per diem payment received annually. The House also urges that such members reimburse the boards, commissions, and authorities for the portion, that represents that member’s membership, of the 2009 contribution paid by the public entity to a State-administered retirement system.
The Senator also has a bill that requires certain appointed public officials to work 35 hours or more per week to be eligible for pensions and benefits, but the fact that they can’t even get support for a bill urging an action says something in itself. I understand the appointees wouldn’t like it, but you would think even politically it could be a winning issue for many of these legislators by saying they are trying to tighten the belt some more. It’s unclear whether the Senator is just trying to raise attention to the issue or would follow through on the block if the cuts aren’t agreed to. Ultimately though, that’s a limited solution to her wider issue. What do you think of the Senator’s potential use of the courtesy and do you think these cuts are a good idea?