Has New Jersey set aside enough money in its FY 2015-16 budget to make an adequate contribution to its pension system?
That’s the question a judge will answer in the coming months, as the state again goes to court over reduced annual pension payments.
The state is scheduled to make a $1.3 billion payment to the pension system – but Christie’s 2011 reform law mandates the payment be around $3 billion.
Unions are suing the state over the shorted payment.
If this seems like déjà vu, that’s because this lawsuit closely resembles a suit heard earlier this month – which the state lost but is appealing – over pension payments that were slashed in 2014 and 2015.
A judge on Monday set the court dates for the new lawsuit.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Mary Jacobson, a superior court judge in Mercer County, said in a filing that the state and the more than dozen union litigants must submit their briefings and responses by next month. Oral arguments for the case are set for May 12.
Unions backing the lawsuit say that Gov. Christie is violating state law by not making promised payments in the state’s upcoming budget and underfunding the pensions by around $1.8 billion. A spokesman for Gov. Christie did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Gov. Christie previously has said the state’s budget woes made full pension payments impossible over the past two years.
“It’s very disheartening that we must return to court yet again to compel this governor to abide by his own pension funding law,” said Charles Wowkanech, president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, in a statement.
The lawsuit alleges Gov. Christie “made a conscious and calculated decision to continue violating” state law by recommending a fiscal year 2016 contribution that is “$1.8 billion less than the State is legally obligated to pay,” according to the complaint filed on March 13.
Out of all states, New Jersey pays the smallest percentage of its annual required pension contribution, according to a report from the National Association of State Retirement Administrators.
Photo By Walter Burns [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons