(TRENTON) — Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) issued a multimedia package Tuesday of excerpts from a State House rally in support of legislation that would ask voters this November to amend the state constitution to require New Jersey to fund the pensions of public employees on a timely basis.
The multimedia package consists of excerpted comments from Speaker Prieto during the State House rally and audio and a transcript of same.
A transcript of comments from Speaker Prieto is appended at the end of the release.
Under the provisions set forth in the 2011 pension and benefits overhaul law, state and local government employers were required to make annual contributions to the various pension systems administered by the State: Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund; Judicial Retirement System; Prison Officers’ Pension Fund; Public Employees’ Retirement System; Consolidated Police and Firemen’s Pension Fund; Police and Firemen’s Retirement System; and the State Police Retirement System.
However, a 2015 decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court held the contractual obligation of the state to make its annual required contributions to the pension systems unenforceable because it was “subject to appropriation” and contravened the Debt Limitation Clause of the state constitution unless approved by the voters.
The proposed amendment (ACR-109) would reverse the 2015 Supreme Court decision and require quarterly state payments into the pension system.
The state’s required contribution would be paid in each fiscal year to each system and fund on the following schedule: at least 25 percent by Aug. 1; at least 50 percent by Nov. 1; at least 75 percent by Feb. 1; and at least 100 percent by May 1.
The constitutional amendment was previously approved by both houses of the Legislature at the end of the last legislative session. In order to be placed on the ballot, it must be approved by a simple majority of both houses in two consecutive years.
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson):
“Good afternoon, brothers and sisters. I’ve heard you loud and clear. You’ve — each and every one of you — have made your payment and we need to make sure the State of New Jersey does the same.
“So, what have we done?
“We’ve listened to you, and we gotta make sure we do the right thing. So, at the end of the day, what was promised to you will be there. So, what we thought is putting it on the ballot: to make sure that we get a constitutional amendment; to make sure payments are done in a timely fashion — including quarterly payments — so it’ll mean more to the pension; so there’ll be a pension at the end of the day that you have worked hard and long for; to make sure it’s there for each and every one of you.
“There has been concerns to see how we pay for this, but you know what? We have to grow our economy. We’ve been working on Transportation Trust Fund to make sure the economy grows, that we put those people back to work, so we have the proper funds to be able to pay into the pension. So, we have come together on one bill on Transportation Trust Fund that is manageable and is doable, with the Senate to pass it. So we have one bill that’s united. And that will also be able to get us the resources.
“When this bill passes through the Senate, it will be in November and I will work with each and every one of you and leadership to make sure this is a reality and we get an affirmative vote and we get it passed. So this is something we have to work, after it pass the Senate, to make sure it’s reality because you deserve it.
“You paid into it.
“Who has not has been administration after administration that they should be held accountable, and that’s why my house has done it twice. We are almost there.
“So, together we can get it done. So let’s move forward. God bless each and every one of you. Thank you.”