Today a judge ruled that Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to cut pension payments to accommodate the state’s budget can go forward. Sen. Loretta Weinberg told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the judge’s ruling was for the current fiscal year, 2014.
“Well the judge actually ruled about the current fiscal year, not the new one that begins on July 1,” said Weinberg. “She’s apparently yet to rule on that from what I’ve seen and she acknowledged that the New Jersey state budget has a big shortfall in this year and with only a few days left, no way to make it up.”
Weinberg said that the state Senate and state Assembly will vote on a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1 and that the proposed budget includes full pension payments. In order to make full pension payments, the proposed legislation will include a surtax on millionaires only for the money that they earned over $1 million.
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick recently said that he and his colleagues are against the idea of an increase in taxes on the wealthiest residents and businesses. Republicans say that a tax increase will scare businesses away. Weinberg said that the proposed increase to millionaires and businesses is not new, but that it would be reinstated.
“Don’t forget it’s only reinstating a tax that was there before. We didn’t scare them away before because we have a desirable place to do business,” said Weinberg.
Christie has claimed that it would be too expensive to sustain pension payments with the proposed increase and that some level of reform may be needed. According to Weinberg, pension reform had been done before and employees are paying more now than they had a couple of years ago toward their health benefits.
Meanwhile, the investigation into the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge continues. Some reports have surfaced claiming that some people close to Christie could be facing criminal indictment. Weinberg said that it is hard to comment on reports from anonymous sources, but that nothing would surprise her about the lane closures.
Weinberg said that she spoke with Port Authority commissioners about the conditions at the Port Authority Bus Terminal along with Assemblyman Gordon Johnson and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle. She said that many talked about stories at the bus terminal about no heat and no air conditioning, among other issues.