New Jersey top court sides with state in high-stakes pension case
June 09, 2016
(Reuters) – The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the state’s 2011 public pension reform did not improperly freeze retirees’ cost-of-living increases in a case that could have cost the state billions of dollars.
Governor Chris Christie’s administration suspended the so-called COLA payments, which are tied to inflation, as part of bipartisan reforms aimed at curtailing the ballooning cost of public pensions.
NJEA and other public employee unions in New Jersey have embarked on a campaign to pass a constitutional amendment that will enshrine a pension funding requirement in the state constitution. We have already succeeded in the first step. In January, on the last week of the last legislative session, the state Senate and Assembly passed a resolution to put that amendment before voters on Nov. 8. Once the same resolution is passed again by both houses in the current legislative session, its placement on the ballot will be secure. Then the real work begins.
Dear Roger (Baker),
My name is Frank Harsanyi and I am the contact person for Atlantic County on the NJREA Health Benefits Committee. I will be sending updates and information from time to time as issues come up on our committee.
One that has been coming up recently is the confusion some members have thinking they are in the Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield OMNIA Plan. Misinformation is so difficult to correct so any opportunity you have to make it clear to members that we as school employees are covered under the SEHBP would be helpful. Only state workers under SHBP have access to OMNIA. Should the SEHBP Design Committee elect to add OMNIA to the existing plans, NJREA will be sure to notify us.
If any health benefit issues or questions arise in your county that need clarification feel free to contact me and I will do all I can to help find the answers.
Please use the contacts below for any health benefits concerns instead of calling Frank Harsanyi directly.
Contacts: Frank Harsanyi – email email@example.com
Roger Baker, president of ACREA at 609-254-3119
Sarah Geiger, NJEA Representative at 609-599-4561.
Here’s Our SPRING 2016 NewsLetter:
Supreme Court rejects NJ employees’ appeal over pension fund
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court refused on Monday to disturb a ruling from New Jersey’s top court that sided with Gov. Chris Christie in a legal fight with public worker unions over pension funds.
The justices did not comment in rejecting the unions’ appeal. The high court order came less than three weeks after Christie ended his run for the Republican presidential nomination.
New Jersey’s Supreme Court ruled last year that the state is obligated to pay individual retirees their pensions, but it overturned a lower court ruling that would have forced the state to come up with billions to pay promised pension benefits. New Jersey’s pension fund has nearly $75 billion in unfunded liabilities, stemming from underpayment by previous governors, both Democratic and Republican.
“At least we tried to hold the governor to his word, which means nothing. Anyone that believes anything he says is a fool,” said Christopher Burgos, the president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association and the lead defendant in the case. “The highest court in the land has allowed lies and deceit to prevail in this case, and once again, workers suffer at the hands of selfish union busting politics by the rich and powerful.”
A Christie spokeswoman said the administration is “heartened” by the decision.
“Now it’s time to return to the hard work of coming together to find a real, long-term solution to make our pension system and public employee health benefit costs affordable and sustainable,” said spokeswoman Joelle Farrell.
The state ruling last year allowed Christie to propose making a roughly $1.9 billion payment to the pension fund in his 2017 fiscal year budget, well below the roughly $3.8 billion payment he and the Legislature agreed to in 2011 legislation.
Christie backed away from those payments after revenues dropped below projections in the previous two fiscal years. After public worker unions sued, the state Supreme Court declined to force him to make the payments in the exact amounts called for in the statute.
Democrats welcome the payment because they’re including a version of Christie’s payment schedule in a proposed constitutional amendment to require quarterly payments.
A commission empaneled by Christie last year recommended another overhaul and said that unions and Democrats are missing an opportunity to rework a system that could be depleted for public school teachers and state employees by the next decade.
Those changes would include turning the benefits into a 401(k)-style plan rather than a traditional pension, reducing the quality and cost of health benefits and turning control of the plans over to the unions, rather than leaving them under state management. The commission this month issued a new report saying cutting health benefits could save the state more than $2 billion.
don’t forget: We are now on FACEBOOK…so look us up, POST a comment (or two) and then “LIKE” us.
Hey There Folks…It’s time to ReNew your membership in NJREA!
It’s only $87