New Jersey voters will not get to vote on a constitutional amendment requiring specific payments to the underfunded public employee pension system in November. Despite, or perhaps because of, the NJEA’s threat to withhold campaign contributions to Democrats unless the state Senate voted to put the measure on the ballot, Senate President Steve Sweeney did not post the resolution for a vote and the deadline to make the ballot passed yesterday.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, the Republican Budget Officer in the lower house and a representative of the 13th legislative district (northern Monmouth County) issued the following statement regarding New Jersey’s ongoing fiscal crisis:
“The passage of the fatally flawed amendment would have been a disaster for the taxpayers of New Jersey as well as those who depend on state services. Even a slight economic downturn could have proven disastrous. We also would have faced instant credit downgrades as insolvency and short term borrowing default would have been real possibilities – perhaps even likely.
But this victory doesn’t mean the job is done. We still have an obligation to our dedicated public workers. We still have to fix our overall budget issues so we can afford to continue to make pension payments – without crushing taxpayers. The three bill package I have introduced would do just that. I stand ready to begin work today with my fellow legislators and union representatives to arrive at a final package we can all endorse.
But mark my words – without reforms NJ faces a bleak fiscal future. No one will be unscathed – union workers would face layoffs and pension cuts and taxpayers would face huge increases in their already heavy burden. Every area of state funding would face a slow but certain strangulation. New Jersey’s economy would be terminally stifled – which hurts everyone. Every day we wait to take action makes the inevitable job more difficult, and more painful. If we fail to take advantage of this rare moment in history – when we have a firm understanding of our challenges and a detailed package of reforms that will enable us to meet those challenges – we will have epically failed indeed. We can’t let this opportunity slip by. Every stakeholder must come to the table with an open mind. To fail to do so will fail the very people we each pledged to serve.”