As reported by NJ.com, Governor Chris Christie and New Jersey’s public employee unions will be back in Court in May in a dispute over the Governor’s planned payment into the State pension system next year. More than a dozen unions have sued the Governor to force him to more than double the $1.3 billion payment he proposed for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
State Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson set oral arguments for May 12, according to the Wall Street Journal. Jacobson last month handed the unions a victory in their lawsuit to reclaim $1.57 billion Christie slashed from this year’s pension payment when tax collections came up short and threw the budget out of balance. She ordered Christie to work with the Legislature to come up with the cash to fund the payment required under a 2011 pension reform law. Christie’s lawyers filed a notice last week that they intend to appeal that ruling with the Appellate Court. They argued that Christie couldn’t be forced to comply with the 2011 law they called unconstitutional.
Under that law, employees were required to kick in more for their benefits, cost-of-living increases were suspended, and the retirement age was raised. For its part, the State was supposed to ramp up its contributions over seven years until reaching the full amount set by actuaries. That same law requires the State to pay $3.07 billion into the system next year, nearly $1.8 billion more than Christie included in his $33.8 billion budget proposal. In the lawsuits, unions argued they kept up their end of the deal, while the State continued to short the system.