As reported by nj.com, hundreds of thousands of retired public employees are not entitled to cost-of-living adjustments, a Superior Court judge has ruled, upholding a segment of the new pension regulations that suspend the increases indefinitely. The ruling by Superior Court Judge Douglas Hurd affects all current and future retirees in pension systems funded by the state, including police, firefighters, teachers, judges, and their local counterparts who are in those systems.
In changes to the state’s pension laws effective last June 28, the Legislature said current and future retirees will not get cost-of-living adjustments to their pensions until the systems reach their “target funded ratios.” Many of the unions representing retirees in those pension systems challenged the new law, first in federal court, where the case was dismissed in March because the court did not have jurisdiction. They claimed the new law denies them a portion of their pension for which they have already paid.
Hurd, however, ruled the Legislature has the right not to fund the pension system. The law affects some 800,000 retirees in the Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund (“TPAF”), the Judicial Retirement System (“JRS”), Public Employees’ Retirement System (“PERS”), Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (“PFRS”), and State Police Retirement System (“SPRS”).
Governor Chris Christie praised the outcome. “We are gratified that our common-sense position has been upheld in Superior Court and we are confident it will be upheld upon appeal,” said Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Governor Christie. “Our goal remains to reform, protect, and sustain the state pension system so it will be there for all current, retired and future employees. At the same time, any bipartisan reform, including the COLA provision, stands to save New Jersey taxpayers tens of billions over the long term.”