TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey’s state Senate has given final passage to a measure that would extend the cap on arbitration awards to police and firefighters.
It now heads to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.
The bill would bring back the cap that expired April 1 while officials disputed how it should look going forward.
Christie has hailed the original 2 percent cap on the awards adopted in 2011 as a key for towns’ ability to comply with a law that keeps property taxes from rising by more than 2 percent per year, with certain exceptions.
The Democrat-controlled Legislature wanted the new version to apply only to bargaining units that had not already had a contract with annual raises under 2 percent. Christie, a Republican, issued a conditional veto of that bill, saying it would not do enough to hold down taxes. He also nixed other changes Democrats wanted to make.
Under the compromise version that moved quickly through the Legislature this month, the cap would be relaxed, but only slightly. Arbitrators can now award annual raises of 2 percent over the previous year’s wages rather than 2 percent per year compared with the end of the previous contract.
That compounding means that in the third year of a contract, a worker could be paid 6.1 percent more than under the previous deal rather than 6 percent.
But Democrats got other provisions they favored, including giving arbitrators more time to decide contracts, and giving unions more time to appeal, for instance.
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