New Jersey state lawmakers are again pushing a bill that would require the state to make its pension payments on a quarterly basis, instead of once annually.
The bill flew through the state Senate and Assembly unanimously, by votes of 72-0 and 35-0.
Quarterly payments would let the pension funds invest the money sooner, with more time for return on investment.
Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed similar legislation in the past, but this version of the bill might be more palatable.
It would require governor to make pension payments on a quarterly basis by Sept. 30, Dec. 31, March 31 and June 30 of each year, instead of at the end of the fiscal year in June. In exchange, the pension fund would reimburse state treasury for any losses incurred if the state has to borrow money to make a payment.
In his 2014 veto of the bill, Christie called it “an improper and unwarranted intrusion upon the longstanding executive prerogative to determine the appropriate timing of payments” so those expenditures line up with tax collection cycles.
But the change in the bill which would have the pension fund pick up the cost of borrowing if needed may address the governor’s previous concerns.
Asked whether the GOP governor would support the measure, the Senate Republican leader, Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union), said he believes he will.
The response from unions was lukewarm; they support quarterly payments, but they also support full payments — and they are skeptical that lawmakers can consistently deliver.