Just one day after losing a court case to unions on pension funding, New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie will propose an increase to public sector pensions, USA Today
The administration said that it has developed the proposals in conjunction with the New Jersey Education Association and indicated that it will propose a $1.3 billion payment to the pension funds in 2016.
The payment would be the largest in state history
but represents a figure far less than the $3 billion that the court ruled
Unions for public workers sued Christie after he announced last year that he would not make the full pension payments he had signed into law in a 2011 overhaul. Christie cut contributions to public sector pension funds in both 2014 and 2015 to make up for state revenue shortfalls.
In his budget address Tuesday, Christie will make specific proposals related to pensions and health benefits, his office said, according to USA Today.
"I know we can get this done," Christie will say, according to USA Today.
"We have proven time and again that even when we look like we're not going to make it work and that politics and partisan interests have won, we flip the script. We do it differently. We get it done.
"I am committed to working with each and every one of you in good faith to make a promise to the people of this state that we will not push this off, we will not leave it for another day, for another year, for another generation."
Supporters of the lawsuit hailed it as a victory. Hetty Rosenstein, New Jersey area director for the Communications Workers of America, said public workers' pension costs increased by 25 percent while the value of their pensions was cut by 30 percent.
"He said, 'The public employees will thank me. I've saved the pension plan.' He went all over the country and said this was his greatest accomplishment. And now he expects to completely repudiate it?" Rosenstein said, according to USA Today.
She added that the pension funds would have gone bankrupt in 10 years had the reductions in payments continued.
"I think the judge made the only decision you could make under the law," Rosenstein said, according to USA Today. "But, oh my goodness, it's certainly the only decision you can make morally."
But a Christie spokesman said the governor's office will launch an appeal.
"Once again liberal judicial activism rears its head with the court trying to replace its own judgment for the judgment of the people who were elected to make these decisions," said Michael Drewniak, according to USA Today.
"This budget was passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor with a pension payment. The governor will continue to work on a practical solution to New Jersey's pension and health benefits problems while he appeals this decision to a higher court where we are confident the judgment of New Jersey's elected officials will be vindicated."
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