Christie Tells Unions to 'Get Realistic' About NJ Pension System
Updated On: Jun 23, 2015
Gov. Chris Christie waves to supporters while leaving. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie greets people eating at the Hickory Park Restaurant. Thursday June 11, 2015. Ames, IA, USA (Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
NJ.com - AMES, Iowa - Gov. Chris Christie called on New Jersey public worker unions Thursday to drop the rhetoric and "get realistic" about the state's ailing pension system.
The governor, speaking in Iowa ahead of a likely presidential campaign, lashed out against unions who have promised to continue fighting the governor after the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Tuesday Christie's administration is not required to make the full pension payments promised as part of a 2011 reform law.
The ruling, which means Christie does not have to make up billions he cut or planned to cut from the pension payments to balance the current and future state budgets, means unions need to come to the table, Christie said.
"The folks in the unions need to get realistic," he said. "I think what happened this week was that the court was sending a dose of realism to the folks."
Christie said the state simply doesn't have the money.
"If we had all the revenue to be able to pay it, I would pay it," he said. "But we don't and I am not going to raise taxes on the people of New Jersey to do it."
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) joined a group of union leaders earlier this week to bash the court's ruling and state on the record that they are "not done fighting this."
He said the Democratic-controlled Legislature plans to introduce its own budget proposal that includes the full pension payment.
The battle is coming to a head as Christie inches closer to announcing whether he'll seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016.
Christie is in Iowa for the fifth time this year to meet with people here in the state that's home to the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus.