Union Chief Slams Christie for Using Pensions as 'Slush Fund'

Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 11:37 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been accused by the head of the state's police unions of using $50 million of its pension funds as a "slush fund" for local municipalities.

Policemen's Benevolent Association boss Anthony Wieners claimed that Christie has "waived" local government pension obligations to the PBA, according to NJ.com.

Calling them "pension giveaways," Wieners said, "The state PBA is sick of politicians who use our pensions as a slush fund and then complain that our benefits are no longer affordable."

Wieners attacked Christie, who is under siege over the bridge-gate scandal, after the release of an actuary report of the Police and Firemen's Retirement System.

"While the governor continues to campaign that the state pension system is 'unsustainable' and in need of reform, he himself is intentionally weakening the [system] by waiving an additional $50 million in local government's pension obligations.

"In doing so, he is continuing the same fiscal mismanagement and sleazy games that underfunded the pension fund for over a decade and that led to the situation we are in today."

During his recent state budget address, Christie said that the cost of pension and healthcare benefits for police and firefighter retirees in the state were unsustainable and urged the state legislature to help him come up with a solution.

In 2011, the state enacted reforms that reduced New Jersey's state and local unfunded pension liabilities by 32 percent.

But Christie, whose aides have been blamed for deliberately causing traffic chaos on the George Washington Bridge last year in an act of political retribution, said more reforms were needed to help pay the $52 billion it owed to fully fund the pension system.

However, Wieners said the state had since offset the increased employee contributions with reductions on the local level contribution, effectively taking contributions from members of the system and handing them to local governments, according to NJ.com.

PBA Vice President and Pension Coordinator Pat Colligan said, "We keep hearing about what dire straits the pension fund is in. Well, how about keeping it in the system to help shore it up."

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