TRENTON – Not quite there, Gov. Chris Christie said of state Sen. President Steve Sweeney’s health care reform plan, but a good start.
Sweeney (D-3), of West Deptford, announced a seven-year rollout on public employee health care reform Tuesday. Sweeney’s plan also has a sliding pay-in scale based on employee salaries, whereas Christie is looking for employee contributions to begin immediately and evenly across the board.
“I am really grateful that the Senate President has come forward with his plan,” Christie said. At first glance, “I’m encouraged,” Christie said, later adding: “It’s not nearly as much reform as we need.”
He said whatever reform is approved, it must be long-term. “We should not endure this battle – and that’s what it’s going to be – for a quick fix,” Christie said. “I recognize, especially with a Democratic legislature, compromise is going to be needed.”
“I’m anxious to hear what the Speaker has to say,” Christie said.
Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34), of East Orange, was not at Sweeney’s press conference today, but sent out a press release saying, “The Assembly can embrace many of the elements to protect taxpayers in this proposal, but as in all things the Assembly will give it its own review.”
Christie also said the Department of Treasury has finished a review of Sweeney’s pension reform plan.
“While I was encouraged with Sen. Sweeney’s health care proposal, I am not encouraged by his pension proposal,” Christie said.
Christie’s pension reform plan will cut a $54 billion pension deficit in half in a decade, while he said Sweeney’s plan will double that shortfall.
In the end, Christie’s plan will fund pensions at a 90 percent clip, whereas Sweeney’s plan will fund the pensions well below 70 percent, the governor said.
Authority over authorities
Christie has been pressing for the Legislature to move a bill granting him veto power over “patronage mills” like the Passaic Valley Sewerage Authority, which just lost roughly a hundred employees without missing a beat.
Today, Christie said he will not be appointing any members to the PVSC board without the veto power that the bill would provide.
“I will not repopulate that rat’s nest until I have the power to ride herd over it,” he said. “Post the bill and make your members go on the record on it.”
Mr. Christie goes to Washington
Christie is meeting with all 15 members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation tomorrow morning in Washington, D.C., to discuss an agenda full of items hashed out by the governor and the congressmen beforehand.
After that, he’ll be sitting for the first time on President Barack Obama’s trade advisory council, to which Christie was appointed to in September.
The last stop on his capital daytrip will be as honored speaker at an American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research convention.