Gov. Christie on Monday signed into law a bill that will sweeten the pension of former Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd, a political ally, just days after she won a lucrative job as CEO of a state board.
The law, which Christie signed on his last full day in office, will allow Redd to re-enroll in the state's Public Employee Retirement System. She will also be eligible for early retirement and lifetime health benefits.
On Friday, Redd was named CEO of the Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden board of governors. She will earn $275,000 annually in that role, up from the $102,000 a year she made as mayor. Pensions are based on salary and years of service, so Redd's new job will also help pad her pension, assuming she keeps it for at least three years.
Christie partnered with Redd on a variety of initiatives in Camden, including a takeover of the school district and overhaul of the police force. Redd is also an ally of George E. Norcross III, a Democratic power broker, insurance executive, and chairman of Cooper University Health Care.
A message left with the Rowan-Rutgers board, seeking comment from Redd, wasn't returned Monday. When asked about the bill last month, her spokesman said she had no comment. The measure passed the Senate, 23-9, and Assembly, 41-21, with 10 abstentions.
The governor signed the law less than a week after he warned in his final State of the State address that, without reform, the costs of pensions and health benefits for nearly 800,000 active and retired public workers would effectively bankrupt the state. "We still have a big problem to tackle and that problem will only be solved by making these benefits more realistic for both pensions and health insurance," he said.
Until now, Redd was eligible for an annual pension of $32,408, beginning in 2028, according to the Treasury Department. Before she was named to the new post Friday, the law would have increased her pension by 50 percent to about $50,000, based on her mayoral salary. Now Redd is on track to get a six-figure annual pension.
Redd enrolled in PERS in 1990 as a Camden County employee. She jumped from City Council to mayor in 2010.
At that point, her pension was frozen because of a 2007 law that prohibited newly elected officials from enrolling in PERS. Officials who were already enrolled were allowed to stay in the system.