Tags: Trump Administration | chris christie | pension | reform | threatened | new jersey

Chris Christie's Touted Pension Reform Under the Gun in NJ

By    |   Thursday, 07 May 2015 07:23 PM

New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s signature achievement may be coming undone.

Lawyers for the Christie administration and labor unions were in court Wednesday to fight over whether it was legal for Christie to slash $1.6 billion from the state's 2015 pension contribution.

At issue is the governor's opposition to the 2011 law he initially promoted as a fix for the state's bloated and insolvent public pension system.

"Is that some sort of bait and switch?" Justice Barry Albin asked Assistant Attorney General Jean Reilly, who represented the state.

The law called for employees to pay more and retire later, and promised the state would ramp up its own funding over seven years until it reached full required annual contributions, which would have been $4.8 billion in fiscal 2018.

When Christie signed it, his office pledged it would "bring to an end years of broken promises," Politico notes.

But Christie cut the payment last year because of a revenue shortfall.

Public sector unions promptly sued the administration, and on Feb. 23, Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson sided with them, finding the 2011 law explicitly created a contractual right that the state make its pension contribution. The state appealed to New Jersey's highest court.

The court battle comes as Christie mulls a possible presidential bid – and polls show him trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Politico notes.

Patrick Murray, director of New Jersey’s Monmouth University Polling Institute, tells Politico a court ruling against Christie could hurt any fundraising efforts.

"If I’m a donor and sitting there, why would I bother to take a risk on him?" Murray tells Politico.

A decision against Christie also would require Christie and the state legislature to plug the $1.57 billion hole this year, and to next year’s budget, which currently allocates just 30 percent of the state's required contribution, Politico explains.

Christie's office said in a statement he's "committed to making as large a pension payment as possible while we pursue reforms to fix the pension system once and for all."

Reuters contributed to this report.

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New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s signature achievement may be coming undone.
chris christie, pension, reform, threatened, new jersey, republicans, president, 2016
Thursday, 07 May 2015 07:23 PM
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