At least 12 labor unions have sued New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over his plan to reduce payments into the state public pension system, arguing it is in direct violation of earlier pension reform legislation he signed. Christie says the state just doesn't have the money.
What's interesting here is that there doesn't appear to be any real dispute over the underlying facts. Christie concedes he was supposed to make the payments under 2011 legislation but says the legislation was signed when state expected to have higher tax revenues.
"This is not something I want to do, but when revenues fall as far short as they have, you have little or no choice," Christie told reporters Monday. The state faces a $2.7 billion budget gap through next June. Christie's plan involves cutting planned pension payments from $3.8 billion to $1.4 billion over two years.
State union leaders aren't disputing the sad state of the pension. In a Monday op-ed for the New Jersey Star-Ledger, New Jersey Education Association President Wendell Steinhauer conceded: "We all agree New Jersey's public employee pension funds are terribly underfunded" -- a result of years of neglect under previous Republican and Democratic governors. Overall, it is underfunded by $52 billion.