Poll: NJ’s Public Worker Pension System in Crisis [AUDIO]
Standard and Poor's is warning that it could downgrade New Jersey's credit rating in the next three months due in part because of the state's reliance on one-shot budget balancing gimmicks. Critics claim Gov. Chris Christie's plan to slash the state's pension contributions through the end of the next fiscal year is a one-shot he wants to use twice.
Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind has released a timely poll on the pension system topic and it shows New Jersey voters are very concerned.
"It's not just politicians who are worried about the public employee pension system," said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at FDU. "Our new survey finds that among registered voters almost two-thirds believe the state's pension system is in serious trouble with a quarter who would use the word 'crisis' instead."
According to Jenkins, while everyone seems to agree that something needs to be done quickly, there doesn't appear to be any easy answers in sight.
"By about a two-to-one ratio, Garden-Staters say the state needs to honor its promises to workers rather than reduce payouts," Jenkins said. "Just 27 percent think reduced benefits is the answer."
As one might expect, the overwhelming majority (85 percent) of public employee households back the idea of the state honoring its promises, but a majority (54 percent) of Jerseyans with no connection to a public worker also thinks the state should make good on its promises.
To keep the current year's budget and next year's spending plan in balance Christie plans to slash the state's contribution to the public workers' pension system by almost $2.5 billion for the combined fiscal years. For the fiscal year that ends June 30, the state was supposed to contribute $1.6 billion, but Christie now plans to pay in $696 million. Next fiscal year's payment was to be $2.25 billion, but the governor says he'll contribute $681 million.