Union Leader Worried About Public Backlash Over Pension Payment
There is some concern among state worker union members that they could face public backlash if the Christie administration is ordered to make a hefty payment to the public worker pension system.
On May 6, the New Jersey Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case seeking to force the Christie administration to contribute an additional $1.57 billion into the pension system before the end of this fiscal year. If the court rules in favor of making the payment, it could result in dramatic cuts to important services, and there's concern that could lead to public backlash against state workers.
the court rules the governor must make the legally required payment it could mean dramatic cuts to important services. The leader of one public employees' union admitted there is a concern that could lead to public backlash.
"Yes, of course we're concerned about that. We desperately care about the services, but we also really know that you can't just ignore the law," said Hetty Rosenstein, New Jersey area director of the Communications Workers of America.
Actuarial tables indicate pension systems could broke in roughly the next decade. Rosenstein said if that is the case, public backlash against the administration would be worse because the state would have to come up with billions every year to pay for post-retirement benefits.
"If they don't fund the pension plan and the state has to pay $8 billion a year out of the general fund instead out of pension funds this would pale in comparison," Rosentein predicted.
Enacting a millionaire's tax increase, rolling back corporate business tax breaks and reining in generous economic development plans would provide more than enough money to fully fund the pension system Rosenstein insisted. Those ideas are likely dead on arrival, particularly the tax hike.
"I have vetoed four income tax increases passed by this body and make no mistake, I will veto any more income tax increases that come before me," said Christie in his State of the State address before a special session of the joint legislature in January.
More legal wrangling is in the offing. On May 12, Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson is scheduled to hear arguments in the case seeking to force the administration to contribute an additional $1.8 billion in FY 2016. Jacobson is the same judge who ruled the state must make it's full pension payment this fiscal year.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.