To listen to Governor Christie tell it, public employees just need to dig a little deeper to solve the state’s pension problems.
Three years after Christie signed Chapter 78 – which raised NJEA members’ personal annual pension contributions by 36%, raised their health premium payments by thousands of dollars more, and which robbed current and future retirees of their cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) – our governor wants more.
NJEA members have endured those costly 2011 changes, because they are required by LAW.
But that same law required the state to make escalating annual payments into the pension system over seven years, in order to ensure the system’s future viability. But three years later, our governor has decided he doesn’t have to obey the same law that we do.
On June 30, the governor – with a few strokes of his red veto pen – tossed aside the budget presented by the Legislature. He vetoed the restoration of the millionaire’s tax. He vetoed an increase in the corporate income tax. And he vetoed a slight curtailing of his reckless tax credits that have already wasted $4 billion on corporations that have failed to deliver the promised jobs. He then slashed the FY2014 required payment into the pension system by $900 million, which would have been covered by the aforementioned revenue increases, and signed an FY2015 budget that cuts the mandated $2.25 billion payment down to under $700 million.
With this governor, revenue is always off the table. With this governor, there is “no plan B” when facing a revenue shortfall, other than breaking the law. With this governor, there is no telling the truth, as he and his minions ran around the state trashing the Legislature’s budget as an attack on working people, in order to protect corporations and the already-wealthy.
NJEA isn’t taking all of this sitting down. We are encouraged by a judge’s late-June ruling that the full pension payments are a contractual right of every member of the pension system, and we have already filed suit against this outlaw governor to force him to obey all of the laws affecting our members’ pensions.