Governor Chris Christie reacted to the New Jersey Supreme Court decision that he has the authority to cut pension payments from the State Budget and that the political branches of government…the Governor and Legislature…not the Court…must “deal with one another to forge a solution to the tenuous financial status of New Jersey’s pension funding in a way that comports with the strictures of our constitution,” by calling for “all interested parties” to come together and solve the New Jersey’s pension and benefit crisis “once and for all.”
“This decision is an important victory not only for our taxpayers who simply cannot afford these unsustainably high costs, but for limited, constitutional government that recognizes the proper role of the executive and legislative branches of government,” the Governor said in a statement issued by his office, “The Court’s position is clear, as is mine, it is time to move forward and work together to find a tangible, long-term solution to make our pension system and public employee health benefit costs affordable and sustainable for generations to come. In light of today’s decision, I urge all interested parties to come back to the table and partner with me to finally solve this problem once and for all.”
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, the Assembly Republican Budget Officer, said,
“Now is the time for teachers and public employee unions to come back to the table to work out an agreement with lawmakers and the governor that is fair for taxpayers and workers. While this decision is definitive, it doesn’t really change much. It doesn’t remove our obligation to resolve the problem in a way that is fair to both our public workers and taxpayers. The governor has put a compelling and detailed plan on the table – designed by the bipartisan pension review commission,- and signaled a willingness to be flexible. The unions walked away from the discussions. There can be no excuse now not to come back. The only way to fix this long-term problem is for people to sit down, roll up their sleeves, and not walk away until we have a final plan.”
During his budget address in February, the Governor announced that his administration and the NJEA had agreed to a “framework” for solving the pension and benefit crisis that included freezing the current pension system, transferring the funds in the system into a 401-K type plan and reducing employee health care insurance from a “Platinum” plan to a more affordable plan. The saving from the insurance premiums would be dedicated to closing the pension deficits over time.
Negotiations over the “framework” Christie announced in February broke down as the unions went to court in an attempt to force the Christie Administration and future governors to abide by the pension reform legislation that was enacted in 2011.
State Senator Joe Kyrillos, R-Monmouth, in a post on his facebook page, hailed the Court’s decision for respecting the separation of powers and slammed the two Justices who dissented from the Opinion.
“Regardless of where you may stand on the pension issue, today’s ruling is the right one – respecting our Constitution and the separation of powers, “Kryillos said, “Given their dissent, I have never felt more correct in my “NO” votes for Chief Justice Rabner and Juctice Albin’s nominations. Now the Legislature needs to get to work and produce a fair budget and together with the Executive and stakeholders develop essential and inevitable reforms for our badly broken pension systems.