Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joseph Cryan, Benjie E. Wimberly and Eliana Pintor Marin that would require the state to make quarterly pension contributions received approval from the General Assembly on Thursday. It now heads to the governor’s desk.
The bill (A-3487) would require the state to make pension contributions on July 15, October 15, January 15 and April 15 of each fiscal year rather than making a single contribution annually. This schedule of payments would prevent the state from raiding the pension fund to balance the state budget at the very end of a fiscal year in the event of a revenue shortfall.
“Our state’s public workers deserve better than the broken promises of this administration,” said Cryan (D-Union). “Over the last few years, our teachers, police officers, firefighters and so many others who have served honorably in New Jersey have been penalized with a reduction in benefits by a governor who said he wouldn’t touch their pensions. Now, by deliberately disregarding his duty to make pension payments, he simply adds insult to injury with his budget proposal. Enough is enough.”
The legislation comes after the governor proposed a plan to balance the state budget for Fiscal Year 2014 and Fiscal Year 2015 by cutting and delaying pension payments. Such action would further burden taxpayers by increasing the pension system’s unfunded liabilities in the future, Cryan said.
“The governor cannot continue to treat New Jersey’s public employees like playthings when it comes to the budget,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “With just days left in this fiscal year, his only plan involves cutting the state’s pension contribution in an attempt to cover up his administration’s mismanagement at the last minute. Had this measure been law, that wouldn’t even be an option.”
“As a state, we have an obligation to stand up for the hard-working members of New Jersey’s middle class. We also have an obligation to act in a fiscally responsible manner,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “Considering the volume of the state’s unfunded liabilities, it’s clear that resorting to pension contribution cuts in order to close budget gaps will only create more trouble on both fronts down the road. This legislation would make sure paying into the pension – and, in turn, avoiding another credit downgrade – is a priority.”
The bill passed in the Assembly 62-13-4 after having gained Senate approval (36-3) earlier today.