Today, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) applauded Governor Chris Christie’s momentous pension and benefits reform in New Jersey. Gov. Christie, along with Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) have reached a bipartisan agreement to return the state pension system to solvency.
The pension reform bill cleared the Democratic state legislature on a bipartisan vote and will be signed today. Under the new law, public employees will pay for a larger share of their own benefits and cost-of-living adjustments will be frozen. State employees ability to collectively bargain for benefits, a key driver of the state’s budget woes, is suspended. These bold but necessary changes are key reforms that will return New Jersey to fiscal sanity. Gov. Christie campaigned on the promise to reform the state’s broken public employee compensation structure, and today has delivered on that commitment.
New Jersey has chosen from a host of reforms embraced by other states to tackle their public employee compensation problems. Suspending some collective bargaining rights is a bipartisan solution that has been pursued by states like Massachusetts, Ohio and Wisconsin. New Jersey is also raising the retirement age and increasing the proportion of benefits paid for by the employees themselves. These changes are expected to save New Jersey $130-billion over 30 years and curb the state’s crushing unfunded liability problem.
ATR President Grover Norquist issued the following statement:
“I commend Governor Christie as well as Democratic Leadership in the New Jersey Legislature on these momentous pension and benefit reforms. These commonsense solutions prove that overspending problems can and must be eradicated without tax increases. This is yet another notch in Christie’s belt toward ending the culture of big government in Trenton and restoring serious fiscal responsibility.
“First Christie helped pass a state budget which cut state spending over 8 percent and reduced New Jersey’s dependence on one-time federal bailouts. Now, he is continuing his push to reform state government by modernizing the way the state compensates its employees.
“The federal government would be wise to look to New Jersey for examples of how to balance the budget without destructive tax increases. This bipartisan solution provides a roadmap to Congress as well as to other states in search of solutions to enduring budget crises.”