While some New Jersey union bosses would rather attack Chris Christie, protest around Trenton, and raise taxes on New Jersey’s already overtaxed taxpayers, New Jersey’s Senate President, Stephen Sweeney (who also happens to be a general organizer for the Ironworkers’ union) seems to be trying to pound some common sense into his fellow union-bought Democrats by raising the alarm bells about New Jersey’s dire fiscal condition.
New Jersey’s Senate president is warning that government retirees could see a two-thirds reduction in their pensions in less than 10 years unless lawmakers can fix a $54 billion deficit in the retirement system.
In a meeting with reporters Thursday, Senate President Stephen Sweeney expressed new urgency in fixing the significantly underfunded pension and health insurance systems for government workers and retirees. He said changes that will cost workers more need to happen by June 30, the deadline for passing a state budget and the date the contract expires for 40,000 union state workers.
“We have a $100 billion deficit between pension and health care — it’s not acceptable,” said Sweeney, a South Jersey Democrat. “It’s not fair to the workers. The promises that were made are not going to be kept. How do we look someone in the eye who’s worked 30 or 35 years and in 2018, all of a sudden people’s pensions are cut by two-thirds and they can’t live anymore?”
Both Sweeney and Christie, a Republican, have proposed pension and health insurance reforms that they say are designed to save the systems. But Sweeney acknowledged Thursday that a majority of Senate Democrats don’t back his proposals and that his pension plan may not save enough to keep the system afloat.
“This is really serious — 2018 is the earliest we think the pensions will go broke, but they’re going broke before 2020,” he said. “That window is shrinking and that number is growing, and there’s got to be some drastic changes. My original bill, I don’t know if it’s enough.”
Though Sweeney’s plan differs from Christie’s, at least he gets it (unlike some of his counterparts in the union movement).
For additional information on state pension and healthcare deficits, go here.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776