By David Cruz
While he’s not throwing in the towel, Gov. Chris Christie admitted today that fixing the pension system is not something he can accomplish on his own, so by executive order he created what he called a non-partisan commission that will make recommendations on a fix.
“The commission is going to work and make recommendations,” he said. “It’s not going to be replacing my job as governor. What it’s doing is I’m getting together a non-partisan group of experts to give me advice on what is an extraordinarily difficult issue that 40 other states across the country are grappling with.”
Before an audience of local elected officials and curious residents, Christie repeated the no pain, no gain refrain he’s been employing at his summer town hall events.
“The bottom line is this. If we don’t do more, and we don’t do it now, we’ll be forced to choose between what matters or a bloated, unaffordable entitlement system that we couldn’t muster the will to fix once and for all,” said Christie. “That’s unacceptable to me and to the people of New Jersey.”
Democrats waved off today’s announcement as moot. Senate President Steve Sweeney issued a statement soon after the announcement.
“The governor broke his promise to fund the pension system,” it said. “The fact remains that the problems will be fixed if he simply keeps his word and provides the appropriate funding. Until the governor decides to keep that commitment, there will be no further discussion between us on pensions.”
Christie responded, “They can’t just sit there and say — because what I’d like you all to ask them is do they promise the taxpayers of New Jersey $4 billion of tax increases in the next four years, because that’s something that the taxpayers of New Jersey should know — just in order to try to keep up with the payments that would need to be made to sustain the current level of benefit promises.”
The governor’s off on vacation tonight. California is all he’d say as far as locations go. The members of the commission will be announced while he’s away, but he insisted they won’t be political people, and they won’t have any agendas other than long-term pension reform.
The governor says the commission will take 30 days to come up with recommendations, then he will take an unspecified amount of time to consider those recommendations, meaning that his August deadline for pension fix will have to be pushed back.