US Supreme Court denies union bid to force NJ to pay yearly public pension contribution
Feb 29, 2016 10:35 PM EST
On Monday, the US Supreme Court denied a bid by unions representing public workers, which force New Jersey to pay the full share of its yearly public pension contribution. The court then refused to intervene in the multi-billion dollar legal fight between public worker unions and Gov. Chris Christie.
The US justices did not release any statement or comment regarding the denial of the union's appeal. Daily Mail reported that the order from the high court came less than three weeks after Gov. Christie ceased his ambition to run for the 2016 presidential race. The state of New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled last year that the state is compelled to pay individual retirees their pensions. However, the Supreme Court overturned a ruling by the lower court which would have forced New Jersey to come up with billions to pay pension benefits. The state's pension budget has about $75 million in unfunded liabilities that came from underpayment by former governors, both Republicans and Democrats.
New Jersey has short-changed its public pensions over several administrations, leaving them poorly funded, says Business Insurance. The state promised to increase contributions over the period of seven years until attaining the full amount that actuaries say is necessary to keep it healthy. This move was enforced under bipartisan reforms in 2011.
New Jersey's public workers like state troopers, teachers, and other government workers agreed to pay more, but Gov. Christie cut the state's contribution for two years. Gov. Christie said the state's fiscal emergency allowed him to slashed contributions and that lawmakers cannot bind legislatures to billions of dollars in spending in the future.
According to Reuters, the Supreme Court then allowed Republican Gov. Christie and his administration to make only partial contributions to public funds. Joelle Farrell, the governor's spokesman, said they were "heartened by the US Supreme Court's decision". The spokesman then added that all parties need to go back to the drawing boards and find a better solution that is "fair for all taxpayers."
Meanwhile, Democrats who lead the state legislature are now pressing for a November ballot measure that would aid voters to approve quarterly pension contributions. Statistics show that many US states are now gradually recovering from the recession and most have tried to bolster their public pensions by reducing future benefits, raising retirement ages, and moving employees into 401k style plans.