Pennsauken Education Association

NJ Legislature moves closer toward constitutional amendment on pension funding


Both houses pass resolution on final day of session

Published on Monday, January 11, 2016

 Lou Greenwald Wendell Steinhauer
Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald congratulates NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer after the pension vote.

The New Jersey State Legislature today took a first step to put a question on the November 2016 ballot that would constitutionally require the State to fulfill its pension obligation and make quarterly payments.

The NJ Senate was the first to pass SCR-184 along party lines with a vote of 23-16. Several hours later, the NJ Assembly passed ACR-3 with a vote of 43-27 with one abstention. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said that this is an important resolution that should be taken to the voters because the State of New Jersey has not kept their promises to public employees. “They have been making their payments. We have to do the same.”

“This is an historic day for NJEA as we advance in our mission to resolve the pension crisis once and for all,” said NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer. “These are two preliminary victories that we will have to repeat in the new Legislature and then the real work starts with our members organizing to deliver a common-sense, fair resolution to the pension funding crisis that will ultimately benefit every taxpayer in the state, including our members.”

Nearly 200 NJEA members lobbied the Legislature to pass the resolutions. They crowded the halls of the Statehouse and waited outside caucus rooms until the votes were taken.

The pension funding amendment would require the state to make quarterly pension payments and would mandate full annual payments after a short ramp-up period.

The strategy is very similar to the funding mandated under Ch. 78, which Gov. Christie has disregarded.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled last year that a constitutional loophole prevented it from enforcing Ch. 78.

This amendment would close that loophole and finally put in place a legally enforceable pension funding requirement.

Today’s lobby day brought out many active and retired NJEA members who spoke to legislators about the need to put a responsible, enforceable pension funding requirement into the constitution.

Last week, each of NJEA’s three officers testified on the bills. NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer testified at the hearing held by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, while Vice President Marie Blistan and Secretary-Treasurer Sean Spiller testified before the Senate State Government Committee. Read their testimonyhere.

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