Public workers in New Jersey would be required to live in the state under a newly proposed bill.
The measure introduced Monday by state Sen. Donald Norcross would require current workers to move to New Jersey within 2 1/2 years. New employees would have four months to establish residency.
"If you want a paycheck from New Jersey taxpayers, you should live here and pay your taxes here," said Norcross, D-Brooklawn. "It is blatantly unfair for our public employees to collect their salaries and benefits from the taxpayers of New Jersey while paying taxes to another state. This practice must stop."
The bill applies to state, county and municipal employees and those working for political subdivisions of the state.
Employees of public authorities, boards, agencies and commissions would also be subject to the measure. So would anyone working within the educational system, including state colleges and universities.
Senate President Steve Sweeney supports the measure and sponsored a similar bill last year, but it never gained steam.
"It only makes sense that those who work for New Jersey's residents and taxpayers are themselves residents and taxpayers," Sweeney said.
Public worker unions say it unfairly targets public workers and worry that it could set off a border war with New York and Pennsylvania since so many of their workers live in New Jersey.
"The sponsors have offered no economic data about what the impact of this bill will be on the state," said Bob Master, spokesman for the Communications Workers of America District 1, the largest state worker union in New Jersey. "It's impossible to believe it will have the slightest impact on long-term structural financial problems of the state."
"You are asking people who have built their lives in various communities outside the state to now pick up and sell their houses, in what may be the worst housing market in five generations, and move back to the state," Masters said. "It's ridiculous."
Masters argued that it would be unfair to require public workers to live in New Jersey while allowing private companies to remain exempt from the requirement, especially companies that have received tax breaks to move to New Jersey.
Gov. Chris Christie supports the bill.