New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed legislation that would have created a New Jersey economic and fiscal policy review commission to "provide ongoing review of state and local tax structure, economic conditions, and related fiscal issues," including employee retirement matters, according to a bill summary.
The governor didn't comment on the veto, which he announced Tuesday.
The goal of the proposed commission is similar to an independent commission that was assembled by state Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, who has clashed with the governor over taxation and remedies to improve the state pension system. Mr. Sweeney was one of the commission bill's authors.
The legislation reflects one of the recommendations from Mr. Sweeney's New Jersey Economic & Fiscal Policy Workgroup. This group issued a report in August 2018 recommending, among other things, creating a hybrid pension system for new employees and employees with less than five years of service. Public employees and teachers covered by the $78.5 billion New Jersey Pension Fund, Trenton, could choose a cash balance plan or a combination cash balance/defined benefit plan.
A bill creating the hybrid plan was introduced May 16 in the Senate, but no further action was taken. A commission bill also was introduced in the Senate in May. However, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee didn't vote on it until Jan. 9 this year. The bill was approved by the Senate and General Assembly on Jan. 13, the last day of the previous legislative session.
Mr. Murphy didn't return the commission bill to the Legislature, thus exercising a pocket veto on Tuesday. This veto applies to bills passed within the last 10 days of a two-year legislative session. For pocket vetoes, the governor doesn't have to offer a veto message, and legislators don't have the time to arrange an override vote.
The Senate and General Assembly passed the commission bill with veto-proof margins. The bill is expected to be reintroduced during the current session.