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Friday, April 23, 2010

Pa. State Reps Sound Off on NJ Residency Requirement Legislation

New Jersey is considering legislation that will require all current public employees to live within the Garden State. Six thousand out-of-state workers would have 2 1/2 years to pack up and move back to the land of high taxes and sweet corn. But state representatives in what is known as Pennsylvania's Northeast Delegation are asking Jersey legislators to grandfather public workers who already live here.

"We represent many people who are public employees in New Jersey that live in Pennsylvania, and this legislation would have a devastating effect on them and their families," said state Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton. "Those New Jersey employees already living in Pennsylvania should be grandfathered, as this legislation would create an unfair burden."

"These bills would require people to be uprooted from their homes, children being pulled from schools and friends, and a whole host of other issues that would be detrimental to employees and their families when they are required to move," said state Rep. Rich Grucela, D-Northampton.

"This would affect a wide range of public employees like firefighters, police officers and teachers who live in Pennsylvania but work in New Jersey," said state Rep. Joe Brennan, D-Lehigh/Northampton.

In Pennsylvania, civil service employees must maintain in-state residency, but that requirement does not extend to as many employees at so many levels of government as the Jersey proposal.

Other members of the Northeast Delegation who signed the letter include state Reps. Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne; Tim Seip, D-Schuylkill/Berks; John Siptroth, D-Monroe/Pike; Ken Smith, D-Lackawanna; Ed Staback, D-Lackawanna/Wayne; Bob Belfanti, D- Northumberland/Montour/Columbia; Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne/Monroe; and delegation chairman state Rep. Neal Goodman, D-Schuylkill.


Anonymous said...

Better headline is PA State D Reps. Concern for the families is their typical cover for not wanting to lose votes or the tax dough these folks fork out.

This is Jersey's business, and they are attempting to make public employees live with the results of their union demands. These employees need to pay the same taxes and insurance fees as those who fund them.

We've got real problems here, and these reps want to stick their nose where it doesn't belong. Hopefully, NJ tells them to take a hike.

Anonymous said...

These reps are not sticking their nose where it doesn't belong, they are trying to stick up for a portion of their constituency who would be very negatively effected by this legislation.

As a worker who would be included in this, who is not in a union, I appreciate my representative sending this letter.

If NJ wants to tax me, fine, but to change the rules after the fact and force me to move is outrageous.

Anonymous said...

I think that there should be residency requirements for all government workers. You work for a city, you live in the city. You work for a school district, you live in the school district. You work for a state, you live in the state.

No exceptions. You need to feel the pain of your fellow taxpayers and contribute to betterment of the community which pays your salary,

Pa legislators should mind their own business and maybe correct their ethics, our state budget and all the financial problems our school districts have due to thoughtless laws. That's all that NJ is trying to do. God help them.

Anonymous said...

these are state reps minding their business... their constituents. Remember those people who vote and have a line in the constitution that reads, "We the People..."

Anonymous said...

One man's "Outrageous" is another man's "Leveling the playing field".

A "commuter tax" of the magnitude needed to recoup all lost income, property and sales taxes would never survive.

Residency requirements, however, have survived legal challenge, and are the only way to deal with this problem.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a free country. NJ is nuts.

Anonymous said...

I understand the point, "You need to feel the pain of your fellow taxpayers and contribute to betterment of the community which pays your salary". I think fair arguments can be made for and against that point.

I do not agree at all, however, that sending this letter was not the business of the PA legislators. I'm their constituent. Their business is whatever government actions effect me.

If they don't have any problem with the NJ bill, fine, they're not going to agree with me on every piece of legislation. But, if they have a problem with the bill and they believe it impacts their constituency, it is absolutely their business to send a letter.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Why not grandfather these employees or at least give them more time to make a move? If forced to sell their homes in this economy, most of them would be taking a bath.

Anonymous said...

I still think their efforts are self serving, but giving them the benefit of the doubt, I would not think PA legislators have standing to try and influence another state's legislature.

9:39 - It is a free country. These people can live where they choose. They are also free to choose whether or not to fulfill the residency requirement if it becomes law, and they are free to seek employment elsewhere.

In the private sector, if an employer requires you to relocate, you can choose to do so, or you can refuse and live with the consequences.

Perhaps NJ might offer some one-time tax relief or other offset if a sale at current market value results in a loss. On the other hand, how many of these folks made out like bandits on the move here, selling a much more highly priced home, buying/building a new one for less and pocketing the difference? Their influx also resulted in overpayment for properties and, like it or not, that overpayment contributed to the housing bubble. Shall those factors be taken into
consideration as well?

As for the timeline, they are offering 2 and 1/2 years. That seems pretty fair, whether the choice is to comply or find a different line of work.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"As for the timeline, they are offering 2 and 1/2 years. That seems pretty fair, whether the choice is to comply or find a different line of work."

I think that's pretty unfair in this economy. 5 years.

Anonymous said...

What some posters are not understanding is that most government employees are middle income clerical/law enforcement/administrative employees who can't afford to live in New Jersey or many suburban municipalities in PA. If New Jersey is going to require it's middle income government employees to live in state they need to do a better job of providing affordable housing. Regarding residency requirements, I'd rather have a competent, highly qualified non-resident working for me instead of some nitwit who happens to live in the municipality. Also, our law enforcement officers deserve some privacy from the local population they deal with all day.

Anonymous said...

10:27 - I appreciate the well thought out points and questions. It is difficult to think objectively about all of the issues when there is the potential for a very serious personal effect on my life, but I am trying.

I'm sure there may be some circumstances in the private sector when an employer can require you reside in a specific location because not doing so would make it impossible for you to perform the requirements of your job. But if it will have no impact on your ability to do your job, can they require you to relocate if they are not actually relocating your place of employment?

And technically, even if they move your place of employment can they actually require you to move? I wouldn't think it would be their business if you chose to keep your actual residence and stay with a friend who lives near the job during the work week, for example.
Anonymous of 8:42 and 9:48

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I thought this was a free country. NJ is nuts.

9:39 AM

In a free country, businesses would not be crushed in a regulatory vise grip. Millions of jobs would stay here in America rather than going to Honduras and Bangladesh

In a free country, the military would be used strictly for national defense. We would not have troops in 135 countries. We would heed the Founders’ advice and steer clear of foreign alliances, which have been nothing but trouble anyway.

In a free country, the value of money would be tied to gold or silver. The Federal Reserve Bank would be shut down. We would not see our savings and our futures eroded by inflation. And we would not owe bazillions of dollars to folks who already have bazillions of dollars

In a free country, we would not constantly be relinquishing our freedom in exchange for security. People would know that the greatest threat to their security comes from their own government

In a free country, there would be no welfare state, no education state and no medical state. There would not be a permanent underclass, the quality of education would be vastly improved, and medicine would be far less expensive. Moreover, immigrants would know that coming to America would mean either sink or swim. Deadbeats would not come here looking for a handout. And all immigrants would, out of necessity, learn English.

Just Opinions.


Anonymous said...

Well, I do realize individuals will be dealing with hardship over this, and am grateful not to be in your position.

It is too bad governments have grown so out of large and out of
control that solutions of this nature must even be considered. But that is where we are today, and there is no solution that will not cause someone some pain. For better or worse, public sector employees have been relatively immune to the downside exposure until now, and that could not go on forever.

I do wish you well as this plays out.


Anonymous said...

here is what bugs me about all of this (though for the record, I am generally in favor of residency requirements): it feels like there is this profound need to punish our detractors through public actions as if it is good to use gov't action to punish those with whom we disagree or do not like. When did we get to a point where we feel like we have to punish people if we don't like something or if something isn't going our way? I have never seen so many people (not in this thread, but in other threads and other forums) seek so much punishment for police, fire fighters, teachers, politicians, bank presidents, corporate leaders, liberals, conservatives, democrats, republicans and more. We have entered a realm of public attitude that is troubling at best and disgusting in most cases. We would be well served to remember that we are talking about the lives of individuals and their families. Bernie seems to be the only one to get this when he offered the point that htis could impact their very personal wealth (home sales or grandfathering). Moreover, we seem to be doing it behind the veil of anonymity that gives us the ability escape responsibility for our words or actions.

Even those we don't like or who we feel embody something we don't like are people. Can't we put that first and keep that in mind as we have these conversations. It won't affect our opinions but it should reflect our relationships even inspite of those opinions.

Or perhaps I am being niave. We'll gladly accept that tag.


Bernie O'Hare said...


Interesting comment. Sounds libertarian.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Geoff, There is a deep resentment against the public sector right now, and not without reason. But it is a mistake to penalize the entire public sector for the greedy actions of a few.

Anonymous said...

I think you are hitting the problem.

Government is out of control.

Did you read yesterday's headlines. SEC staff attorneys spent their days collecting porn from the internet while ignoring their responsibilities? What permits a society to grow to this abuse?

Government compensation was never meant to make someone wealthy. It was never meant to send you 100 miles away to purchase a five bedroom home so that you could lead a life of rich.

We have it all twisted. Our priorities are confused.

I am sickened that our legislators are critical of another state's efforts to cure its problems. PA has trouble. We need our reps to deal with our problems. You all sat out there for years and watched the abuses of leadership and did nothing. Now, today when the leadership is under criminal indictment you pretend that you never knew anything.

Anonymous said...

"But it is a mistake to penalize the entire public sector for the greedy actions of a few."

I would expand that. I think it is a mistake to penalize entire populations (public or private sector) for the greedy actions of a few. Yeah, when the financial sector pulls the stunts that it pulled to facilitate the credit/real estate crisis, we need reforms to add protection for customers and communities, but I'm hearing something that is more hate-filled than concerned with public well-being.

I enjoy sitting with people like Dean Browning who disagree with me over politics but who enjoy reasoned conversation to try and create understanding. Sure, Dean could pull out instances of public sector greed that hurts taxpayers and I could do the same from parts of the private sector. But it accomplishes nothing. Instead, we focus on what gov't can do to actually make life better. We disagree on how that is done, but we don't need to behave the way our political culture seems to encourage us to behave.

Alright, thanks Bernie.


Anonymous said...

Residency requirements harm municipalities' ability to attract the best quality employees by limiting the pool of available talent. I want the best candidates for the job. Someone choosing not to live in Easton or Allentown or New Jersey is showing outstanding judgment and should be considered for employment regardless of where they live.

Anonymous said...

modern residency is that you have to move once you are hired. Just think when Allentown hired a police chief who lived in Harrisburg. When he received those emergency calls, he responded be there tomorrow. There are sacrifices for working for government. Having to establish residency is one of them. I don't care to have a fire department living thirty miles away. Heaven help us if there is a major disaster.

Oh, that goes both ways. I don't get the candidate that I want. But, residency is important to a municipality's well being.

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons these folks are out here in the first place is the insance economic situation in NJ. Between auto insurance, real estate taxes and an overall higher cost of living, they've just about run everyone out of there.

They're certainly entitled to do what they deem is necessary to protect their tax base. This seems like an esay fax for NJ public employees however. I'm sure that they're not barred from having more than one home. Just get a mailing address in NJ and problem solved.

Anonymous said...

"Also, our law enforcement officers deserve some privacy from the local population they deal with all day."

Give me a break!! As a municipal employee charged with law enforcement that lives in the community he serves, you sir/madam are wrong. An employee who lives in the State, County and Municipality he/she works for is more accountable and in tune with what is "really" go on in the community that employees he or she. The Governor of NJ is making a tough but difficult choice. If people are working for the government in NJ, they ought to live there. This is simple. Too bad for those who now need to move. I am sure all will work out for them.

Anonymous said...

So Anon 12:10, then they get to pay State Income Tax to two states? I don't think so.

The fact is that the Federal Government regulates interstate commerce (read the US Constitution), not the governor of New Jersey. If this proposal gets turned into law, it will be vacated by the SCOTUS and Christie will look like even more of a boob.

Christie is setting up a system where a mid-level file clerk in Trenton (who might make 35K a year) can't live 1/4 mile away in Morrisville where the rents and housing costs are mroe reasonable.


The exodus of folks from Jersey started decades ago and now the consequences have settled on the state.