Governor Delivers Budget Address Focused Almost Exclusively on Pension & Health Benefits

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Governor Chris Christie delivered his annual budget address to the Legislature February 24 but the larger budget specifics were eclipsed by his plan to address pension and health benefit issues.

Pension Roadmap?

Top on his list was discussions the NJEA has had with the Governor’s Pension and Health Benefits Study Commission around cutting over to a NJEA managed pension plan.  Details of the plan were scarce at the moment, although following the address a report and details of an agreement between the parties, was posted on the Division of Pensions & Benefits website.   The deal, dubbed a ‘Roadmap’ by the Governor during his address, would also require the State pass a constitutional amendment compelling a dedicated funding source for future pension contributions. 

The Commission also released additional recommendations for addressing the current pension and health benefit crisis.  The report comes on the heals of a decision by Mercer Assignment Judge Mary Jacobsen yesterday who ordered a payment of $1.57 billion (Judge Rules State Must Make Pension Payment for 2015, February 23, 2015)

The proposed budget includes $1.3 billion toward the current pension obligation.  

School Funding

Details beyond the pension and health benefit roadmap were scarce, with a scant mention of school aid that is predicted to go up slightly to $12.756 billion under the proposed budget.  Christie also renewed his call for inclusion of 2 million for the Opportunity Scholarship Act.  Other highlights include an additional $2.7 million for preschool, and an additional $3.2 million for the Interdistrict Public School Choice program.