Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson heard oral arguments on Thursday, January 15th, 2015, to consider the legality of Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to cut the pension payment in this year’s budget.
Just days before the end of the last fiscal year, Judge Jacobson ruled that the state’s revenue shortfall resulted in a fiscal emergency. She allowed the governor to cut the payment by nearly $900 million. However, Judge Jacobson also found that without a fiscal emergency, workers would be contractually entitled to the full pension payment under the 2011 reform law.
Lawyers representing all public-sector workers returned to court to fight for the payment Gov. Christie has vowed not to make in the current budget.
The NJ State AFL-CIO issued the following statement after Thursday’s court proceeding:
“We are grateful to have our day in court to challenge Gov. Christie’s decision to disobey his own pension reform law by reneging on required payments to the state retirement system.
“We believe the state has a contractual obligation to all public-sector workers including teachers, firefighters, police, government workers, retirees and taxpayers to comply with the law he signed and fully fund the pension system. The governor’s refusal to contribute the state’s $1.57 billion share has further stressed the underfunded retirement system, which relies primarily on investment returns for financial solvency. If this governor was sincere about trying to make the pension payment, why would he veto a bill requiring the payments to be made quarterly rather than in one big lump sum at the end of the year?
“Judge Jacobson listened to hours of testimony and raised thoughtful questions during Thursday’s daylong hearing. We are confident and hopeful that based on what she heard, Judge Jacobson will hold the governor accountable to the law he signed. Public-sector retires forfeited their cost-of-living increases under the reform law, and public-sector workers are contributing more toward their retirement benefits than ever before. It’s long past time for the governor to uphold his part of the law.”