Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) responded Tuesday to Governor Chris Christie’s allegations that his new bill to institute mandatory quarterly pension payments is a purely political move.
Christie’s criticism of the bill on his radio show that same day followed his address to an audience of New Jersey business leaders on Monday, where he said he held them responsible for Republicans’ losses this November and wouldn’t look on idly as they “play kissy face” with Democrats and neglect their commitments to the GOP.
Sweeney’s bill, which would require quarterly pension state fund payments that he said would cut the unfunded liability by a projected $4.9 billion over 30 years, was introduced on the Senate floor Monday.
“It passed the Senate with overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans,” said Sweeney after the Christie broadcast. “While it didn’t become law, it was a good idea then, and it’s a good idea now. Had it become law in 2011, the fiscal damage done to the pension system from the missed payments wouldn’t be nearly as severe,” said Sweeney.
“It’s a typical Sweeney diversion,” Christie had said. “Making quarterly payments doesn’t save money, Steve, if you don’t have it.”
But the state’s nearly $80 billion pension liability was not the only fiscal albatross on Christie’s mind this week. During the address to the New Jersey Business and Industry Association that preceded his swipe at Sweeney, Christie went off-script and derided the New Jersey business community for its failure to weigh in against millions in super PAC spending for Democrats in 2015’s Assembly elections.
“You got slaughtered,” Christie said to the assembled businessmen, who according to the AP listened in a hush without breaking for applause. “It’s time to get a spine.”
Republicans lost three seats this year in an election marked by low overall turnout and hefty PAC contributions from the NJEA, which weighed in this year in the interest of keeping teachers’ stake in the pension fund solvent.
Despite Christie’s anger toward the private sector, insider sources on both sides have told PolitickerNJ that both of the state parties are well aware that without a PAC to call their own, the future of state Republicans’ campaign coffers looks bleak.