Dominick Marino, the president of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, penned an op-ed in Wednesday’s Times of Trenton calling on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to take responsibility for the state’s pension problems – and to fix them.
Gov. Chris Christie continues to blame everyone for the state’s pension problems – previous governors, lawmakers, firefighters and police officers – but he refuses to take responsibility for his own actions on the issue.
Apparently, he wants the public to believe that when it comes to pensions, the buck stops elsewhere. That’s wrong and he knows it. It was Christie who, in 2011, signed a law dramatically overhauling New Jersey’s public pension system, increasing the out-of-pocket contributions from workers and mandating a seven-year schedule of state payments to get the system back in the black.
Since the 2011 signing, everyone has been doing their part to follow the law except Christie. He has decided the state simply cannot afford to live up to the terms of the law he signed and has cut $1.6 billion from the state’s obligation of $2.25 billion for the current fiscal year.
The governor can point fingers all he wants, but it will likely be up to the courts to sort through Christie’s smoke-and-mirrors approach to pensions. Three of the state’s largest pension funds are suing Christie and his administration for failing to make the legally required payments.
According to Standard and Poor’s, the problem with the pension fund is not public employees and not the economy. It’s Christie not paying his bill. This from the ratings agency: “The long-term impact of continuation of a funding policy that allows the State to contribute less than the actuarially recommended contribution could impact, at some point, the Pension Plans’ ability to meet their obligations absent significant additional contributions by the State, increased investment returns, or actions or events resulting in reductions to liabilities of the Pension Plans.”
Read the entire piece here.
Photo by Bob Jagendorf from Manalapan, NJ, USA (NJ Governor Chris Christie) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons