Earlier this week, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that judges do not have contribute more for their pensions and health benefits despite a law that requires them to do so. Today, the State Senate Labor Committee held the public hearing required by law on a measure that would ask voters in November if they'd like to amend the constitution to give the legislature the authority to force judges to pay more.

Democratic State Senate President Steve Sweeney says, “My goal from the beginning has been to protect both the taxpayers who foot the bill and the public employees who were promised a pension. No one should be treated differently. The pension system of our judges can go bankrupt just as easily as any, and perhaps even more easily given its current poor health.”

The question will be placed on the November ballot. Turnout is expected to be better than most years because the office of the President is atop the ticket. New Jerseyans going to the polls will also get to have the final say on the judges’ pension and health care contribution issue.

GOP Assemblywoman Amy Handlin says, “The bipartisan legislation sponsored in both Legislative houses was never intended to exclude the judiciary. Its purpose was intended to save benefit programs that are teetering on the verge of collapse, including the judicial pension system. This question poses an inherent conflict of interest for the judiciary. The Legislature must act swiftly in order to let the public decide this issue.”

Handlin is one of sponsors of the measure which would allow voters to decide that the Legislature has authority to pass laws increasing contributions from justices' and certain judges' salaries for employee benefits.

The full Senate and Assembly are scheduled to vote on the legislation this coming Monday morning.