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Gusciora, Muoio & Turner: Pension Ruling “Profoundly Disappointing”

15th District Legislators Condemn Ruling’s “Short-Sightedness”

After New Jersey’s Supreme Court ruled 5 to 2 to overturn an appellate court ruling that had ordered Gov. Christie to make the full, legally-mandated contributions to the public employee retirement systems, Senator Shirley Turner and Assembly members Reed Gusciora and Liz Muoio registered their “profound disappointment” in what they believe is a “short-sighted ruling that will further decrease the trust of citizens in the governmental process.”

“To me, this issue is cut and dry,” Gusciora said. “The bottom line is, if we offer a system to our state workers that promises them matching contributions, we need to make those matching contributions, and provide the workers with exactly what we promised them. The Court’s decision is based on the logic that the legislature and the governor, as elected representatives, should work together to come to a constructive solution to fund the pension system that is in the best interest of the entire state,” Gusciora explained. “But the fact of the matter is, we’ve tried to work with Gov. Christie and all he has done is proven that he is not willing to work with us. This ruling is short-sighted. The end result is that we have kicked the can down the road. At one point, we will need to address this problem, and if we continue putting it off, it will continue to grow until, in the not-so-distant future, it becomes completely unmanageable.”

“The fact that Governor Christie chooses to call this decision a ‘victory’ says much about his failed leadership,” Muoio continued. “The decision essentially reveals that the contractual agreement he touted nationwide as such a great example of consensus building was nothing but another empty promise on his part. The court correctly notes that ‘the loss of public trust due to the broken promises made through Chapter 78’s enactment is staggering.’ Far from being a ‘victory,’ Gov. Christie should consider this loss of public trust a personal embarrassment.”

“The 2011 statutory enactment that requires the state to make incremental increasing contributions to the public pension funds also places that same requirement on public employees,” Turner began. “However, the court has freed the governor of his commitment, while public employees must continue to pay their hard earned money into a system that the governor and the court have walked away from. In fact, employee contributions will increase again on July 1 and will continue to increase each year until 2018.”

Turner spoke to the far-reaching consequences that the decision could have, saying that “the governor’s refusal to honor a contract that he negotiated, signed, and championed will ultimately increase taxes for every New Jersey resident who will eventually have to pay the liability. The court has once again permitted the governor to further burden low and middle income families while he awards the Wall Street fat cats with over $1.5 billion in fees and commissions for managing public pension funds and awarding over $5 billion in corporate welfare in the form tax credits and subsidies.”

“The court declared the employees as clearly morally in the right,” Turner concluded. “It is now up to the legislature and the governor to restore their own moral compass and honor the commitment made to the employees.”