Assembly Majority Leader & Education Chair Decry Administration’s Push to Change Benefits for Public Employees on Brink of Retirement
(TRENTON) — Responding to a report in The Record of Hackensack that Gov. Chris Christie is drafting legislation that would change pension calculations and require greater contributions to health care costs for existing public employees and new retirees, Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan and Assembly Education Committee Chairman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., on Friday issued the following statements:
Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan (D-Union):
“Gov. Christie’s insistence on applying pension and benefit reforms to those employees already vested or nearing retirement is undemocratic at best and legally questionable at worst.
“These employees took their jobs and planned their lives around the promises of state government that they would receive a specific set of benefits upon retirement. Changing that contract at the last minute would jeopardize or critically alter the retirement planning of an entire generation of public employees and could be seen as a breach of contract by the state, pushing us into murky legal waters.
“Gov. Christie seems content to view public employees as his personal whipping boy — unaware or willfully ignoring the fact that his actions continue to wage war on New Jersey’s middle class and threaten the retirement planning of tens of thousands of hard-working residents.
“What’s worse is that the governor is seeking these enhanced givebacks from working class residents while simultaneously increasing middle class tax burdens and granting the super rich — the top one percent of taxpayers — tax breaks in the thousands of dollars.”
Assembly Education Chairman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex):
“Public employees — especially public school teachers — should be able to rely on the promises of the State of New Jersey when it comes to planning their careers and their retirement.
“Gov. Christie’s plan to apply pension reform to existing employees would trigger the retirement of tens of thousands of highly qualified educators who would be forced to leave our classrooms to protect their retirement planning.
“That outcome would be a lose-lose for everyone involved, no matter how you look at it.”
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