The New Jersey State AFL-CIO is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our affiliated public employee unions in the fight for state pension funding before the New Jersey Supreme Court.
The state federation and our affiliates were well represented before the court on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, when our lawyers argued convincingly that Gov. Christie is obligated to make the full yearly pension payment required by law.
As you know, the governor is trying to avoid putting nearly $1.6 billion into the system this year. The state federation and a dozen public-sector unions sued to stop this governor from violating the pension reform law he promoted and signed and touted in a cross-country victory lap. The state Senate and Assembly recently joined our lawsuit, and Senate President Sweeney was in the courtroom on Wednesday to demonstrate his support for public employees and show that the purpose of the 2011 reform law is being ignored.
The 2011 law was created to restore the pension system to financial health, so that police and firefighters, teachers, and state, county and municipal employees can rest assured that the compensation they defer while in the workforce will be there for them in retirement. Under the law, retirees gave up their cost-of-living adjustments, active employees began paying significantly more for their benefits and the state agreed to phase in its full contribution until reaching full funding in 2018. The Legislature sent the governor a budget with full pension funding, but he vetoed it. Everyone except this governor has taken responsibility for fixing the retirement system.
Earlier this year, a Superior Court judge ordered the governor to restore the payment. Now the case is in the hands of the state’s highest court. We look forward to a thoughtful and timely decision from the justices.
Meanwhile, we will not rest until the state accepts its share of responsibility for ensuring the long-term health of our pension system – and that this governor lives up to his own law by making the full pension payment.