By Dustin Racioppi, State House Bureau, The Record

Fourteen unions – including the largest teachers’ organization that signed on to Governor Christie’s outline for further pension reform — announced Tuesday that they intend to file a lawsuit to require the governor to comply with the reforms he signed into law four years ago.

The announcement comes after the governor announced in his budget address last week that he plans to drastically reform the current pension and health benefits system by freezing current public employee pensions and converting to a 401(k)-style plan. In his address, Christie touted an “unprecedented accord” with the New Jersey Education Association, who had been a longtime adversary but backed the framework for the governor’s proposal.

But Tuesday’s announcement by the unions may strike a blow to that accord. The association’s president, Wendell Steinhauer, said in a statement that “it’s time to return to the rule of law in our state and to protect the future of hundreds of thousands of New Jersey families.”

Christie’s 2016 budget includes a $1.3 billion pension system payment, less than half of what was agreed upon in the 2011 reforms he led and signed into law. Christie has also cut the pension payments in his last two budgets.

The administration is also considering an appeal to a Superior Court judge’s ruling last month that required Christie and the Legislature to find a way to restore $1.6 billion in pension funding for the current fiscal year. That ruling was the result of lawsuits brought by unions following earlier cuts to the pension funds.


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