The New Jersey Senate Budget Committee has approved a resolution to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November 2016 to compel the state to make the required contribution into the public pension system, protecting the benefits that have been earned by public workers.
CWA New Jersey Area Director Hetty Rosenstein, in a statement supporting introduction of the constitutional amendment, said: “When the NJ Supreme Court allowed Governor Christie to break both his word and his own law by refusing to fund the pension, we said our union would never permit the destruction of the pension system and New Jersey’s economy.” Read the full statement here.
A similar resolution will be heard in an Assembly Committee on Thursday. The resolution would place a ballot question before New Jersey voters. If approved by voters in November 2016, it would put the state on track to make full pension payments by 2022.
Sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Senators Shirley Turner and Linda Greenstein, the resolution passed the Senate committee 8-5 with every Democrat voting in support of a Constitutional Amendment and every Republican voting against it.
Earlier in the week, Governor Christie warned a business group that unless they poured money into the New Jersey political process, “the pigs will be charging down State Street,” where the state house is located, referring to union efforts to fully fund pensions.
In testimony before the committee urging legislators to approve the amendment, CWA New Jersey Political Director Seth Hahn rejected that idea, saying, “Some people call [public workers] pigs for wanting to have a modest retirement benefit. I choose to call them dedicated workers who aren’t thanked enough for doing the most difficult jobs in our communities and who need their legislative leaders to make sure they don’t have to live their senior years in the poor house.”
The resolution also calls for the state to make the annual required contribution on a quarterly basis. The state would make its pension payments in August, November, February and May— instead of on the last day of the fiscal year. Pension payments have historically been cut due to poor budgeting practices or a claim that the state is out of money because it has been funding other priorities. Quarterly pension payments would add millions more into the pension fund by allowing the pension investment to earn interest over the course of the year, saving New Jersey taxpayers $13 billion over the next 30 years. Governor Christie has twice vetoed legislation requiring quarterly pension payments.