Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Gov. Christie's pension battle: "Weird NJ"

Governor/Presidential Candidate Christie tours the country touting bipartisan pension and health benefits reform as the signature accomplishment of his administration. Part of that reform was his legal obligation to make regularly scheduled contributions in order to get the system off life support. (See here for cliff notes on the long history of the state's underfunding of the system.) 

Today, the Supreme Court of New Jersey will hear arguments in the ongoing pension battle between the state's public employee unions and the Christie administration because the governor has decided he can't come up with the full, legally obligated payments that he signed into law. 

Rather than raise taxes on the top 1% or invest in education, infrastructure and job training, he gave away hundreds of millions in corporate tax breaks that yielded few jobs, and slashed funding to programs and services (including almost $6 billion to education) that would have helped the majority of New Jerseyans increase their quality of life and support the economy—a scenario that's playing out in Republican run states all across the country. Democrats, who control the legislature, have never gotten enough votes to override his draconian cuts because GOP legislators have never gone against the will of the enforcer governor. Now, with several of those D leaders jockeying for their party's gubernatorial nomination, and Christie's poll numbers tanking, they are not so willing to play in the gov's sandbox anymore. 

Christie promised to reform the system, to save it from default—except when he couldn't do it by hurting the very people it belongs to: middle class workers. So, now he's in court presenting arguments that his signature law is illegal.

Only in New Jersey...