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Opinion: New Jersey residency requirement for public employees seems unfair

NJ Assembly new hope free pressBy Michael Castro

In 2011, New Jersey passed the “New Jersey First Act,” which requires that all newly-hired public sector employees establish residency in the state within a year, or lose their jobs. This doesn’t seem fair. Why is it okay – for example – for a resident of Lambertville, New Jersey, to teach school in New Hope, Pennsylvania, but not okay for a New Hope resident to teach in Lambertville, just across the Delaware? What if one’s spouse works in Pennsylvania, or one’s children are already settled in school?  Should the entire family have to move to meet New Jersey’s requirement?

The New Jersey legislature is considering legislation (Senate bill 2169 and Assembly bill 3399) that would partially roll back the residency requirement — new public school employees in 10 NJ counties (including Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, Mercer, Camden, and Burlington) would be exempted from the law as part of a three-year pilot program.

This seems like a good start: I would encourage Pennsylvanians to contact their elected representatives to support this change in New Jersey’s law.

We’re one country.  For more than 200 years – including the time General Washington’s troops crossed the Delaware — working together across state lines has been a good thing.


Michael Castro is a resident of Newtown.

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