New Jersey Voters Weigh In On Pension Reform Policy Options In New Poll


Unlike most states, New Jersey’s pension system gets ample press in state news programs and publications. And with airtime comes debate—meaning that every New Jersey voter, by now, has an idea of whether they approve of Chris Christie’s string of pension-related decisions stretching back to May.

A recent poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, gave voters a chance to voice those views.

From the results, one thing is clear: when it comes to Gov. Christie’s “no pain, no gain” approach to pension reform, voters want the “gain”. But they aren’t too keen on the “pain” part of that equation.

Note: the poll asked voters their opinions on various policy options to fix the state’s pension funding situation. Sharp-eyed readers will notice there were no questions regarding the state making larger payments to the fund. That’s because it’s unlikely that particular policy option will even be proposed; Christie has said this new round of pension reforms will focus on cuts to worker benefits and/or tax increases elsewhere. Hence the “no pain, no gain” slogan assigned to Christie’s push for reform.

To start, most voters agree that pensions for New Jersey’s public employees are too high (47 percent). Surprisingly, that number increases along with age: just 42 percent of voters in the 18-34 age bracket think pension are too high. But 49 percent of voters over 55 years old think that public pension benefits are excessive.

Screen shot 2014-08-13 at 11.40.41 AM

But the same voters didn’t think pensioners should be made to accept lower benefits. Overall, 55 percent of respondents disapproved of the idea of making workers accept lower pensions in exchange for higher taxes, which would be used to shore up the pension system’s funding issues. Only 33 percent agreed with that proposal.

Screen shot 2014-08-13 at 11.45.47 AMWhen it comes to making voters choose between raising retirement age or increasing contribution rates for public employees, the consensus was clear: raising the retirement age was unpopular (only 31 percent approval) while increasing contributions was much more acceptable (52 percent approval).

Screen shot 2014-08-13 at 11.49.31 AMFinally, voters were asked which policy options they preferred to help fund the pension system. The options: increase taxes or reduce pension benefits.

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As it turns out, neither policy option is particularly popular. Only 12 percent support increasing taxes, and only 26 percent think worker benefits should be decreased. A combination of the two policies was more popular amongst voters (52 percent would approve of a combination of tax hikes and benefit cuts).

The poll was conducted with 1,148 New Jersey voters contacted between July 31 and Aug. 4.The margin of error for the poll was plus or minus 2.9 percent.

You can read a summary of the poll results here.

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One Response to “New Jersey Voters Weigh In On Pension Reform Policy Options In New Poll”

  1. Tiffanie says:

    This information is very useful, thanks for the research that you have done.

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