NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer released the following statement in response to Gov. Christie’s press conference earlier today:
“This much should be abundantly clear to every New Jersey resident: Gov. Christie is much better at making pension promises than keeping them. As a candidate, he pledged to educators that ‘nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor.’ He broke that promise in 2011 when he signed a law that reduced pension benefits even for current retirees. In signing that law, he made a new promise that the state would slowly return to responsible pension funding practices by phasing in its contributions at a rate of 1/7 per year. Now he says he intends to break that promise, too.
“Gov. Christie’s illegal, irresponsible and reckless proposal to further delay a return to sound pension funding practices will irreparably harm New Jersey and cannot be allowed. In addition to the damage this will do to the pension system and to the employees and retirees who rely on it, this will further damage New Jersey’s fiscal reputation, to the detriment of every taxpayer. NJEA will pursue every legal avenue to stop this reckless and illegal attack on working-class New Jersey residents.
“Gov. Christie consistently submits budgets that are unrealistic and when his budgets fail to work out, he blames others. This year he is targeting public employees once again, despite the fact that they have contributed every last dollar required of them under the same 2011 law that Gov. Christie intends to break. Public employees have already seen their pensions diminished and their contributions increased to make up for the state’s past failures to fund the pensions.
“It’s time for the Legislature to demand fiscal accountability from Gov. Christie. The governor must make the full, legally required pension payment. He must also commit to making next year’s payment in full and on time. The best way to avoid further fiscal gimmickry is for the state to make its pension payments monthly, rather than waiting until the end of the year. Gov. Christie needs to understand that it’s not enough to sign laws. He actually has to obey them, too.
“It is also time to have an honest conversation about how New Jersey pays for the services and priorities that residents deserve and demand. Gov. Christie’s refusal to pursue reasonable revenue increases to meet the state’s obligations and priorities has led to downgrades in New Jersey’s bond rating, costing taxpayers dearly as the state’s borrowing costs have increased. It’s time to restore the popularly supported millionaires’ tax, to levy a corporate surcharge, and raise the gas tax to cover costs that need to be moved back to the transportation trust fund.”