More than 700 public officials may get raises, as part of proposed legislation that would permit Gov. Chris Christie to make money by writing a book while still in office.
State ethics laws restrict executive branch officials from profiting from a book, but a bill up for Senate and Assembly committee votes Thursday and final approval Monday would change that.
The proposal has drawn fire from all corners — not just for the Christie book deal provision, which has inspired a but for provisions that would give certain government employees raises and slash a revenue source from the state’s financially struggling newspapers.
The plan would hike the salaries of judges, Cabinet members and county officials, plus allocate $30,000 more a year to each lawmaker to pay aides. Nearly 575 judges, 86 county officers and 25 high-ranking government executives would get raises, and hundreds of legislative aides could benefit, depending how the extra cash is divided up.
Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, said she’s “a little stunned … and frankly disappointed” that the proposal is being advanced on the heels of raising the gas tax by about 23 cents a gallon, costing drivers an estimated $1.2 billion a year.
“They are also now going to award, because it’s all taxpayer-funded, raises to the political elite,” Beck said. “I think it’s dead wrong. I think it is absolutely misguided. The timing couldn’t be any worse.”
A fiscal estimate of the bill’s impact isn’t yet ready. But applying the same approach that was used to analyze a similar proposal from 2014, the impact on taxpayers would start at around $10 million and grow from there:
- In 2017, the cost would be around $10.5 million.
- In 2018, the cost would grow by around $4.5 million, to an annual total of $15 million.
- Beyond that, the impact would depend on the rate of inflation. If inflation is 2 percent, the impact in 2019 would increase around $3 million, to an annual total of $18 million and growing.