Update: the Assembly Appropriations Committee approved Coughlin’s bill, A-20, on Friday morning: “Public education employees are essential to New Jersey and we value their contributions. This legislation will restore fairness to Chapter 78 health benefit contributions and provide needed relief to New Jersey taxpayers. After months of work with Senate President Sweeney, the NJEA and the Governor’s Office—I am pleased to move this bill forward,” Coughlin said. “By providing new, more affordable health plan options and including a guaranteed floor of savings, this bill is a win-win.”
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has signed on to a deal between Senate President Steve Sweeney and the New Jersey Education Association to make significant reductions to health care costs for public school teachers.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee will consider their version of the bill, with Coughlin as one of six prime sponsors, today.
The full Assembly is expected to vote on a three-bill package as early as Monday.
Coughlin and Sweeney have agreed to some changes to the Senate President’s original proposal, and the Senate will amend their bills to match the ones introduced in the Assembly.
Sweeney, once a fierce critic of the NJEA, announced his proposal in March while standing next to the powerful teacher’s union president, Marie Blistan.
The Coughlin bill, A-20, requires the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program and eligible employers SEHBP to provide certain plans for public education employees and certain public education retirees.
Sweeney had estimated the savings to the state at about $7 billion over the next seven years.
One big concession for Sweeney was a $300 million guaranteed floor that Coughlin insisted on, likely with input from Gov. Phil Murphy.
Two accompanying bills, A-631 and A-4140, will also move forward.
In addition to Coughlin, the Assembly bill lists Assemblywomen Nancy Pinkin (D-East Brunswick), Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Trenton), Mila Jasey (D-South Orange) and BettyLou DeCroce (R-Parsippany), and Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-Plumsted).
This story was updated at 10:46 AM and again at 1:18 PM with comment from Coughlin.