Judge upholds suspension of pension increases for N.J. public employees
By MaryAnn Spoto/The Star-Ledger
TRENTON — Hundreds of thousands of retired public employees are not entitled to cost-of-living adjustments, a Superior Court judge has ruled, upholding a segment of the new pension regulations that suspend the increases indefinitely.
Friday’s ruling by Superior Court Judge Douglas Hurd in Mercer County affects all current and future retirees in pension systems funded by the state, including police, firefighters, teachers, judges – and their local counterparts who are in those systems.
In changes to the state’s pension laws effective last June 28, the Legislature said current and future retirees will not get cost-of-living adjustments to their pensions until the systems reach their “target funded ratios.”
Many of the unions representing retirees in those pension systems challenged the new law, first in federal court, where the case was dismissed in March because the court did not have jurisdiction.
They claimed the new law denies them a portion of their pension for which they have already paid.
But Hurd ruled the Legislature has the right not to fund the pension system.
The law affects some 800,000 retirees in the Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF), the Judicial Retirement System (JRS), Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) and State Police Retirement System (SPRS).
David Fox, an attorney representing the Probation Association of New Jersey, the Newark Firemen’s Union and other unions said all the unions plan to appeal.
“Its impact is not only on these existing retirees… but also on a huge number of future employees,” Fox said.