The New Jersey Senate attempted but ultimately failed on Thursday to override Gov. Christie’s veto of a bill that would have altered the schedule on which the state pays its annual pension payments.
The amended schedule would have made it more difficult for the state to cut its pension contributions in the future. The bill was proposed after Gov. Christie cut the state’s pension payments by over $2 billion to plug revenue shortfalls in the general budget.
The bill (S2265) would have required the governor to make pension payments quarterly in July, October, January and April, instead of at the end of the fiscal year in June.
Sen. Robert Gordon (D-Bergen) said that spreading the payments out could have increased the likelihood the state would make its contribution.
Legislators introduced the measure following Christie’s move to balance the budgets ending in June and beginning in July by withholding $2.4 billion from planned pension payments when gross income tax collections came up short.
In his 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.
“Simply wishing in a law that sufficient funds will be available on specific future dates does not change the fiscal realities of revenue collection during the course of a 12-month year,” he said.
While the bill easily passed in both houses — 36-3 in the Senate and 62-13 in the Assembly — Republicans weren’t expected to go along for the override.
The Democratic-controlled state Legislature has never won a veto override, in part because the Republicans who vote with the Democrats decline to override and risk crossing Christie.
The vote failed 25-12.
Read the bill here.
Photo credit: “New Jersey State House” by Marion Touvel – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:New_Jersey_State_House.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons