|Health Care Costs--Fort Lee Letter|
Governor Christopher Christie Office of the Governor
PO Box OOl Trenton, NJ 08625
Acting Commissioner Kimberley Harrington NJ Department of Education
PO Box 500
Trenton, NJ 08625-0500
Re: Public School District Health Insurance Premiums Dear Governor Christie and Commissioner Harrington:
We are the duly appointed contract negotiation representatives for the Fort ee Board of Education and the Fort lee Education Association, respectively. We are currently engaged in good faith contract negotiations to seek.
resolution of outstanding issues to settle a successor agreement. However, a difficult and challenging point of negotiations is resolving health insurance premium payments under current Chapter 78 requirements.
We understand that this issue has proven difficult for school districts throughout the state and we are mindful of the current fiscal circumstances of our state government. However, the skyrocketing cost of health insurance premiums in the New Jersey state plan are proving to cause an undue burden on both school boards and education associations. School boards must responsibly approve school budgets that maintain the high education standards in our state, all within the 2% tax levy cap mandate. The members of education associations are forced to contribute substantial percentages of their earned income for continually rising insurance premiums, reducing their take home compensation to levels that are lower than before they started contributing to premiums, resulting in many members seeing their wages go down year after year.
Consequently, this creates a perfect storm when trying to balance the school board's and education association's genuine attempt to represent their respective constituents and arrive at a fair deal. Public school districts are forced to operate in a climate where there are strict caps on the funds they can allocate in their budget, while simultaneously, there is no cap on what service providers and vendors can charge these districts for services and products. This is like going into a boxing match with one hand tied behind your back. It is not a fair fight.
We are cognizant that you both have difficult jobs and are dealing with multiple issues that are substantial in importance. However, we are looking to you for leadership and guidance in addressingthe health care insurance crisis that is negatively impacting public school districts and creating an unsustainable fiscal obligation to both school boards and education associations. At the end of the day, we are all working to maintain the high achievements of New Jersey public schools and maintain our standing as a national leader in education.
We appreciate your consideration and attention to this crisis and we are available to meet with you to further discuss possible solutions, at a mutually convenient time.
We look forward to hearing from you.
F.L.E.A. President B.O.E. President
Garden State Coalition of Schools