Dems say economy and lack of jobs, not pension, is hurting the state

TRENTON – As quickly as Gov. Chris Christie called on lawmakers to enact additional pension reforms in his Fiscal Year 2015 budget address, the Democratic-controlled Legislature fired back.

Leading Democratic lawmakers indicated shortly after the governor’s speech that a battle is looming after Christie stressed the importance of tackling the state’s “looming crisis,” referring to New Jersey’s pension, health benefit and debt services.

“What we really need to do is reform our economy,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney, playing on the governor’s words on reforming the pension system to tackle the state’s looming economic woes.

“We need to get people back to work,” he said. “That will fix the revenue problem.”

The top Senate lawmaker – who was surrounded by other leading lawmakers, including Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto – argued the governor knew of the rough road ahead when he signed the historic pension and health benefit reform package.

“We knew it was going to be hard in year four, five and six and seven,” Sweeney said. “It gets better and it gets [to be] less of a burden going out.”

Dems say economy and lack of jobs, not pension, is hurting the state