NJ lawmakers approve pay hikes

January 7, 2008 3:13:23 PM PST
New Jersey judges and county prosecutors are in line for double-digit pay increases under a bill that received last-minute legislative approval on Monday.

The Assembly voted 51-26 and the Senate 25-13 to give an 11 percent pay raise for New Jersey judges and a 17 percent pay hike to county prosecutors.

The bill needs Gov. Jon S. Corzine's signature to become law, and Corzine has expressed support for it.

The measure would put the pay for Superior Court judges on par with federal court judges, but it comes with the state facing a projected $3 billion budget deficit for next fiscal year. The judges also received a 5.7 percent pay raise this year.

The bill was among several tax and spending measures receiving consideration on the final day of the legislative session.

The Legislature elected in the Nov. 6 election convenes at noon Tuesday, and any bills not passed by then expire.

Legislators also approved:

- Creating a recycling program for used electronics products.

Manufacturers would register with the state and pay an annual $5,000 fee to help create the program, but manufacturers contend that fee will increase consumer costs.

- Imposing a new tax on solid waste facility owners and collectors.

The $3 per ton tax would raise $34 million annually for municipal and county recycling programs.

Legislators estimate this tax would have minimal affect on county and municipal property taxes, because money raised by it will provide grants to the governments. Businesses, though, contend it lacks safeguards and will increase costs.

Two new tax bills, meanwhile, were set for consideration later Monday. The bills weren't even considered until after Democrats retained legislative control in the Nov. 6 election. They would: - Allow Newark to tax tickets at the new Prudential Center arena. The tax could be as high as 5 percent of the ticket price, with money raised going to Newark.

- Allow cities to impose a 7 percent parking tax during sporting events, trade shows, concerts and other special events held on weekday evenings, weekends and holidays.

The tax would be in addition to parking taxes already charged in the municipality. Newark, Jersey City and Elizabeth are the only New Jersey cities currently imposing a parking tax.

Under the pay raise bill, Superior Court judges would get $165,000 per year, up from $149,000, while appellate judges would get $175,600 per year, up from $158,500. The associate Supreme Court justices would be paid $185,500 per year, up from $167,500, and the chief justice would get $192,795 per year, up from $173,500.

Salaries for county prosecutors would go from $141,000 to $164,888.

The bill also would boost the minimum salary for county clerks, surrogates, deed and mortgage registers and sheriffs from $91,650 to $107,250.