Christie Slams 'Elite' Judges in Pension Squabble

Wednesday, 26 Oct 2011 02:57 PM

By Andra Varin

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is lashing out at rules that he says protect an “elite class” of Democratic-backed judges as he seeks to make judicial pensions an issue in the state’s upcoming legislative elections.

A superior court judge sparked a furor last week when she ruled that increases in the costs of pensions and healthcare benefits for members of the judiciary amount to pay cuts forbidden under the state Constitution.

Chris Christie, judges, pensionsChristie appealed the ruling, but he also is calling for a state constitutional amendment that would force judges to pay more for their pensions.
“We are asking people who are paid the most to pay the most for the most generous pension benefits,” the Republican governor said Tuesday during a campaign event at the Trenton War Memorial, as reported at nj.com. “These are public servants, not kings and queens in black robes.”

He said that, if the judge’s ruling is upheld on appeal, New Jersey residents will be able to vote for his proposed constitutional amendment next year — if they elect GOP majorities to the state Legislature on Nov. 8.

“Everyone who has the privilege of a public pension should pay their fair share for their public pension," Christie said. "I want the judiciary to be independent. I just don't want them to be part of an elite special class of citizens who get better benefits at a lower cost than everybody else in the state, and do that at the expense of the taxpayers."

State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Senate President Stephen Sweeney said the issues of judges’ pensions should be allowed to go through the courts before anyone talks about taking action.

“It's just terrible that Gov. Christie has chosen to stomp his feet and play politics instead of focusing his attention on protecting taxpayers by overturning this ruling, which would be the quickest and best way to resolve this problem," Oliver said in a statement.

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