Christie Aims to Fast-Track Pension Case to NJ Supreme Court

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The Chris Christie administration this week filed its appeal to a court ruling that ordered the state to make its full pension contribution in 2015.

The administration argues that the initial ruling was unconstitutional, and is pushing for the case to be fast-tracked to the state Supreme Court, according to NJ Spotlight.

New Jersey wants a final decision as soon as possible, because the outcome will determine whether lawmakers need to dramatically alter the state’s budget to make room for the payment.

In late February, a court ordered New Jersey to make its full $1.6 billion pension contribution in 2015, as mandated by the 2011 pension reform measure signed into law by Christie.

The state had planned on skipping the payment altogether, and the money isn’t yet budgeted for.

From NJ Spotlight:

The Christie administration yesterday launched its counterattack on a court order that the state must make a $1.57 billion pension payment by June 30, arguing that a Superior Court judge violated the state constitution by taking control of the budget process from the Legislature and governor. It asks the state Supreme Court to quickly take over the case.

In a court filing, Assistant Attorney General Jean Reilly says events since Judge Mary Jacobson issued the order in February have added urgency to the request for direct Supreme Court intervention rather than an appeals court review. Those include demands by state worker unions that the state obey the order and new legal filings asking the court to compel full pension payments in fiscal 2016 as well.

“The trial court’s decision has thus caused an avalanche of litigation and, without immediate review, will potentially grind the budget process to a halt as the elected branches await the trial court’s imprimatur of their fiscal and policy decisions,” Reilly wrote in the Supreme Court filing.

During the court proceedings in February, the Christie administration had argued it was permitted to skip pension payments in 2014 and 2015 due to a “fiscal emergency”.

The court bought that argument as it applied to the 2014 payment, but it ordered the state to make the 2015 payment in full.

 

Photo By Walter Burns [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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