NJ Supreme Court hears testimony on pension fund

A New Jersey state Supreme Court justice wants to know if Gov. Chris Christie's stance on pension payments amounts to a "bait and switch."

New Jersey's top court taking on Christie's pension changes (File Photo)

New Jersey's top court taking on Christie's pension changes (File Photo) (5/6/15)

TRENTON - The New Jersey Supreme Court heard testimony Wednesday regarding the state’s pension fund. 

Lawyers for Gov. Chris Christie and New Jersey’s public workers unions testified.

Under the pension law signed back in 2011, the state was supposed to pay more than $2 billion into the pension system this year. However, Gov. Christie cut it down to $600 million when there was not enough revenue to pay.

The governor’s attorneys say this was a smart move because balancing the state’s budget is part of the state’s constitution.

However, the labor unions sued the state, saying the pension payment was a contract between the state and the workers and can’t just be cut down.

During the testimony, the Supreme Court justices pushed back against both sides. They asked what would happen if the state couldn’t afford to cover several of its obligations. 

"There would have to be some kind of judicial determination as to competing priorities of the Legislature,” said Associated Justice Anne Patterson. “How can that be squared with separation of powers?"

There is no schedule for the justices to render a decision, but the state's fiscal year ends on June 30. Lawmakers and the governor will need to know before then if they need to come up with the rest of the money.

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