New Jersey State AFL-CIO leadership were joined by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and the leaders of the largest public-sector unions on Thursday, June 25, 2015, to urge Gov. Christie to obey his own law by fully funding pensions.
Everyone is abiding by the pension reform law – except the governor who signed it. Retirees forfeited their cost-of-living increases, active employees are paying more, local governments have never skipped a payment and the Legislature has again drafted a budget that includes the entire amount of required pension funding. And now, while the governor continues to break his own pension law by skipping contractually required pension payments, he is calling for additional concessions for public workers.
Despite the governor’s rhetoric, New Jersey pensioners are NOT getting something for nothing. The state’s average pension benefit is among the least generous in the country (PERS ranks 95th in generosity out of the 100 largest pension systems), while government workers here pay more for health insurance than those in any other state.
The labor movement and the Democratic-led Legislature are united in their conviction that pensions must be funded according to the law. We commend Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Prieto for their continuing commitment to full pension funding. They not only drafted a budget that contains the full $3.1 billion pension payment, but also led the way on a supplemental appropriation that would pump $300 million in unanticipated additional revenue into the pension system for next year.
The results of the governor’s reckless disregard for the law and callous disrespect for pensioners are well-known: A record nine credit downgrades under his watch; a record $616 million in fees paid to Wall Street pension managers who performed no better than in-house money managers; his willingness to argue against his own law in the state’s highest court rather than honor the deal he signed and touted in a cross-country victory lap; and his total disregard for the long-term effects his selfish fiscal policies will have on the public and private sectors while he’s looking out only for his own future.
We will continue to fight for our pensioners and the future of the pension system – even if the governor who signed the law refuses to lead the way.