NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer released this statement following the New Jersey Supreme Court’s ruling on the pension funding lawsuit filed by NJEA and other public sector unions:
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a blow to the rule of law in New Jersey.
“It is devastating to all public employees, retirees, taxpayers, and families.
“The Court’s ruling that Gov. Christie is not bound by the laws that he signs and enforces on others is, in my view, indefensible.
“This ruling does nothing to resolve or reduce the state’s pension liabilities. In fact, it affirms our members’ non-forfeitable right to receive their pensions. But it also allows the current administration to push that obligation off onto future taxpayers, with interest.
“The only beneficiary of this ruling is Gov. Christie, who can continue to deceive New Jersey residents into believing that his budgets have been balanced. For anyone who will be in New Jersey after 2017, the cost of his deception will be staggering.
“This ruling has given the governor permission to kick the pension can down the road for the rest of his term. By doing that, the Court has now increased the state’s future pension liability and ensured that taxpayers will bear a much greater burden in years to come.
“The Court may have given the governor a pass on funding the pensions, but the state’s liability remains. Responsibility for the health of the pension systems and of the state’s future economy now rests solely with the Legislature, which must step up and act responsibly.
“Last year, the Legislature passed a responsible budget that put the state on a path to sustainable pension funding. Gov. Christie vetoed that budget, and too few Republican legislators had the courage to override his fiscally reckless action.
“This year, those legislators must decide whether they are still willing to burden their constituents with greater and greater debt each year simply to advance the political interests of a governor whose focus is no longer on New Jersey.
“The Court may have taken away the requirement for the governor to act responsibly, but it did not take away the right or the obligation of the Legislature to do so.
“We call on the entire Legislature to stand up for educators, other public employees, retirees and every New Jersey resident. They must do the job that the Court and the governor refuse to do. They must refuse to be bullied by the governor into further mortgaging New Jersey’s future.
“The Legislature must fund New Jersey’s pensions.”