New Jersey Democrats join court battle over Christie’s pension funding cuts
APRIL 20, 2015, 5:24 PM LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, APRIL 20, 2015, 5:25 PM
BY SALVADOR RIZZO
STATE HOUSE BUREAU |
Democratic leaders in the state Legislature joined the court battle over Governor Christie’s funding cuts to the New Jersey pension system on Monday, arguing in a legal brief that public workers have the law on their side as they seek an extra $1.57 billion than Christie authorized this year.
Christie, a Republican, signed a major overhaul of the state pension laws in 2011. Among other provisions, the law gave public workers stronger contracts with rights to full contributions from the state’s yearly budget to their pension funds, which are underfunded by $37 billion.
Three years after signing the law, Christie now argues it is unconstitutional. He has cut $2.4 billion from New Jersey’s legally required pension contributions, paying $1.38 billion instead of $3.8 billion over the last two years in a last-resort effort to balance the budget. The latest cut is under review by the New Jersey Supreme Court, which has scheduled a hearing May 6.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, both Democrats, submitted a five-page brief rebutting the central plank of Christie’s legal strategy. The 2011 pension overhaul is, in fact, constitutional, the lawmakers argue.