Colligan Decries Supreme Court Pensions Ruling

Today the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that Governor Chris Christie was within his authority to take away cost of living

Colligan

Colligan

adjustments from retirees.   The pension adjustments based on inflation, commonly known as COLA, were stripped away from retirees by Governor Christie in 2011.

NJSPBA members agree that state government needs to be concerned with fiscal responsibility, especially when dealing with unfunded pension liabilities.  But the reality is that retired law enforcement officers and fire fighters held up their end of the pension agreement.  These former officers didn’t skip pension contributions, while the state continues to skip or underfund their responsibility.  An actuarial analysis of PFRS found that the state’s actual contributions to PFRS have averaged only 60% of what the state was required to pay since 1998.

New Jersey’s pension system is not one monolithic fund that is losing money daily.  In fact, the State manages five pension plans for State and local employees.  Of those five, the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) is financed mainly by local governments, law enforcement officers and firefighters who have been making their required pension payments.  The current funded level of the local portion of PFRS is near 80% and far ahead of the other pension systems.

The NJSPBA believes that an honest discussion on pension funding and the health of the State’s pension system will show the pension system that police officers and fire fighters rely on for their retirement, PFRS, is financially stable and positioned to succeed if required payments are made moving forward.

Retired law enforcement officers were stripped of annual cost of living increases by Governor Christie in 2011.  These retired officers are living on fixed incomes and approximately 80% do not receive social security benefits.  The burden caused by the state skipping pension payments should not fall on the backs of our retirees.  We need a full-time governor moving forward to deal with the state’s growing problem with regard to unfunded pension liabilities.”

Pat Colligan is president of the state PBA.