By John Reitmeyer
Deadline nears for putting new pension payments on November ballot, but impasse between Christie and Sweeney on transportation funding gets in the way
A statewide ballot question that would require increasing payments into New Jersey’s grossly underfunded public-employee pension system has now been dragged into the debate over renewing the state Transportation Trust Fund. Senate President Stephen Sweeney fears the state won’t be able to fund the bigger payments if the sales tax is also cut this year, which is part of Gov. Chris Christie’s solution for the TTF.
Public-worker unions enthusiastically back the proposal to amend the state constitution, which calls for more robust state pension contributions, and they remain confident it will pass the Senate one more time, which is the last step needed to put the ballot question before voters this fall. In fact, ads backed by the New Jersey Education Association in support of funding the pension system are already airing on television as a state deadline for getting questions on the ballot is now less than three weeks away.