June 29, 2015
Reprinted with permission from the NJ AFL-CIO
Gov. Christie had the opportunity to put the people of New Jersey before his own political ambitions by signing a budget that protects working families, funds public pensions according to the law and raises taxes on the wealthiest.Instead, he slashed pension funding, wrongly labeled benefits as ‘bloated’ and blamed ‘a broken system’ rather than his own refusal to fund it.
Despite the governor’s rhetoric, New Jersey pensioners are NOT getting something for nothing. The state’s average pension benefit is among the least generous in the country – PERS ranks 95th in generosity out of the country’s 100 largest pension systems, according to a joint analysis by Keystone Research and New Jersey Policy Perspective. An NJ Spotlight study shows government workers in New Jersey pay more for health insurance than anywhere else in the country.
Christie’s budget shields the wealthy and businesses from any shared sacrifice while again hurting working families.
“Everyone is obeying the pension reform law – except the governor who signed it,” said Charles Wowkanech, president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, which represents one million workers and their families. “Retirees forfeited their cost-of-living increases, active employees saw their pension contributions rise by 36 percent to 7.5 percent of their pay, local governments have never skipped a payment, and the Legislature again delivered the governor a balanced budget that includes the required pension funding amount. Even as he prepares to run for president, the governor continues to break his own pension law by skipping legally required payments.”
Since 1961, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO has been the voice of labor and working families across the state.