PARAMUS, NJ – After school Thursday, hundreds of educators hoisted signs along Route 17 to get the attention of drivers and the state legislature.
"I work three jobs," said middle school science teacher Claire Dates, who added that the cost of benefits is outpacing her income. "You end up making less every single year."
Dates said she pays approximately $14,000 in benefits costs annually, and the amount is rising while her income increases at a set rate of $500 per year.
Educators want state lawmakers to lower their health care costs, and they want the state to invest more in their pension fund.
“We’ve been hurting since 1996 when Governor Christie Whitman first started taking from our pension fund," said Kathy Guner, another Paramus educator.
Hundreds of teachers throughout the state have been protesting this cost, including Thursday in Trenton and earlier this week in Franklin Lakes.
"We’re making our pension payments, the state hasn’t made theirs and then now the bean counters are coming and saying oh, we can’t fund this," said school counselor Chris Nutland. "We’ve been doing our job."
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has been pushing to raise taxes on the state’s wealthiest to, in part, provide relief for teachers.
But the state’s leading lawmaker in the senate wants to reign in benefit costs instead of raising taxes - an idea rejected by teachers Thursday.