FAIR LAWN – Gov. Chris Christie said he’s confident that the Assembly will pass the pension and benefits reform that he and state Sen. President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), of West Deptford, have worked out with Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, (D-34), of East Orange.
He told the full-capacity crowd at the Bergen County gymnasium at today’s town hall that he believes the Assembly “will complete the job” in their full session vote on the reform bill Thursday. The Senate passed the reform Monday.
The announcement was met with a mixture of boos and cheers, almost in equal portions.
“Those who oppose this have a right to be heard as well,” Christie said, but, “after Thursday, we got more big things to do.” Like the budget and education reform,” he said.
“We have support from both political parties, who want to do this,” he said. “This isn’t like other states.”
At the onset of his town hall today, Christie was protested by a small group – some vocally-trained – of singers who sang the Star Spangled Banner as Christie discussed his reforms. A large portion of the crowd booed the protest, which sources said may have something to do with a local dispute over a teachers’ contract.
“Only in New Jersey, everybody,” Christie said as state police escorted the group out peacefully. “Free entertainment.”
On health care refrom – the more contentious portion of the reform package form a worker perspective – Christie said the average of public employee will contribute “about 20 percent (of) premium…when everyone is fully-phased in four years from now.”
“New Jersey will be setting a great example for the rest of the country,” he said, with bipartisan cooperation, “not having one thing set by one party or another.”
He took no offense at the protests and Democratic outcry: “I don’t have any problem with any of that…But in the end, decisions have to be made.”