💲 NJ legislators voted themselves big pay raises

💲 They failed to act on several important measures

💲 Some issues could return later this year

As the 2023 legislative session came to a close this week, lawmakers failed to act on several key issues.

They did pass a massive pay hike package for top government officials that included a 67% pay raise for themselves.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

Under the measure introduced by retiring Sen. Richard Codey, legislative salaries would increase from $49,000 to $75,000 per year beginning in 2026. Future raises would be automatic and tied to the Consumer Price Index, although annual increases are capped at 2%.

What they did not do, however, was take action on critical measures to address the current judicial crisis, provide more affordable housing, extend paid family leave benefits and address the harms of social media on our kids.

Here's a look at the unfinished business your elected state legislators failed to address:

The judicial crisis

This wasn't even an issue of passing a bill, it was simply the State Senate scheduling a vote on the confirmation of judges.

A total of 11 nominees did not get a confirmation vote despite pleas from Supreme Court Justice Stuart Rabner.

Passaic County courthouse (Google Maps)
Passaic County courthouse (Google Maps)

The judicial shortage has been described as crisis-level, impacting civil and criminal proceedings across the state. In some regions of New Jersey, civil trials have been suspended entirely.

Rabner says even if the 11 judges had been confirmed, it still leaves the Superior Court with 19 judges short of what is needed to function properly.

More affordable housing

New Jersey has been facing a shortage of so-called affordable housing for years. Democrats introduced a series of proposed reforms they claim would have addressed the issue by overhauling state regulations.

However, under pressure from local officials who feared the impact to their communities, lawmakers punted on the issue and took no action.

Affordable Housing
Matt Cardy, Getty Images

It is likely the issue will come up again, as Gov. Phil Murphy made it a priority in his State of the State address.

More paid family leave

Pressure from business groups sunk this legislation with the Senate failing to take action.

The Assembly passed the bill granting paid family leave benefits for employees of companies with fewer than 30 employees. It would have granted paid time off to care for a sick relative or a new baby without fear of losing one's job.


Senate President Nick Scutari (D-Union) refused to allow a vote, saying he was concerned about the impact on small business.

Social media safeguards for NJ kids

New Jersey was set to join a handful of other states in requiring minors to get approval from their parents before signing up for a social media account.

The measure was hailed as a way to safeguard kids from the dangers of social media use.

FILE - This combination of photos shows logos of X, formerly known as Twitter, top left; Snapchat, top right; Facebook, bottom left; and TikTok, bottom right. Social media companies collectively made over $11 billion in U.S. advertising revenue from minors last year, according to a study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health released Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023. (AP Photo, File)
FILE - This combination of photos shows logos of X, formerly known as Twitter, top left; Snapchat, top right; Facebook, bottom left; and TikTok, bottom right. (AP Photo, File)

Opposition, however, surfaced from LGBTQ advocates claiming the measure would disproportionately harm LGBTQ youth who look for comfort and validation on-line.

There were also free speech concerns and worries the legislation would ultimately end up in court.

Other unfinished business

The legislature also failed to act on other issues impacting the state, including the highly controversial casino smoking ban.

For years, casino workers have lobbied intensely for the ban and lawmakers finally seemed ready to give it to them.

Atlantic City Casino Smoking

However, intense lobbying from the casino industry and worries about the impact to casino revenue eventually peeled off enough support among lawmakers to sink the bill.

Legislation was also left to die that would have reformed New Jersey's antiquated liquor license laws, stopped book bans in school and given greater public access to government records.

So, about those big raises?

Yeah, the sweeping increases cover a wide range of top government officials. Many already making six figures.

💲 Senate and Assembly members would see their salaries increase from $49,000 to $75,000

💲 Staff allowances for legislative offices would increase from $135,000 to $150,000

💲 The salary for governor will increase from $175,000 to $210,000

💲 Cabinet officers would see their salaries rise from $175,000 to $210,000

💲 The bill also sets the salary of Superior Court judges at $207,000

Most of the increases do not go into effect until 2026, however, cabinet officer salaries would be retroactively increased back to July, 1, 2023.

NJ DOT humorous safety messages 2.0

Gallery Credit: Dan Alexander

It's here! The complete 2024 NJ county fair summer schedule

A current list of county fairs happening across the Garden State for 2024. From rides, food, animals, and hot air balloons, each county fair has something unique to offer.

*Please note that only two of New Jersey's County Fairs have yet to announce their 2024 fair dates. Please check back for updates.

(Fairs are listed in geographical order from South NJ to North NJ)

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

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