The proposal by the Democrat legislative leadership to constitutionally mandate pension payments each year may sound like a nice thing to do and like “we’re just keeping our word.” But it would be a disaster for the taxpayers of New Jersey as well as the very people the amendment is supposedly intended to benefit.
First, if we enact this amendment without simultaneously enacting reforms that will permit us to make the massive payments, we will be digging our huge budget hole even deeper. We will be making the same promise we had to break in 2011. This time without even a thought about reforms that would enable us to keep that promise.
Now that the 2016 budget debate is over, we must get back to the most pressing state issue of our time. The suggestion of some in the public worker sector that those of us who voted against the budget are in favor of our abandoning our commitment to ensuring their pensions is completely false. For any responsible elected official, and decent human being, it is imperative that we meet our commitments in a way that protects our pubic workers – and the NJ economy at the same time.
The May 7 editorial chastised the Christie administration for what it referred to as a "bait and switch" regarding the administration's budgeting some of the open space acquisition funding authorized last year to pay salaries of park workers. On the surface this seems like a reasonable gripe.
But when one digs further it becomes evident that the real offense wasn't committed by the administration. It was committed by the legislative sponsors of the initiative authorizing the referendum in the first place.
Too many people - on the left and the right, politicians and editorial boards - act as if there is a politically expedient magic bullet that will painlessly fix New Jersey's budget problems. There isn't. Gov. Chris Christie is right when he says our budget problems are serious. The solutions are going to be painful.
First, let's understand that the this problem is rooted in 20 years of bad decisions, by governors and legislatures, by Democrats and Republicans. Some were careless, others were craven. But the bottom lines is that we are in deep trouble.
Our structural deficit is around $6.75 billion - inclusive of $1.6 billion in transportation investment per year, but exclusive of things we'd love to do, such as cut property taxes.