Sweeney plans to introduce pension payment amendment

Senate president Steven Sweeney plans to introduce a pension payment amendment to 2016 ballot.

Senate president Steven Sweeney plans to introduce a pension payment amendment to 2016 ballot. (12/10/15)

TRENTON - Senate President Steve Sweeney says he will push for a constitutional amendment requiring the state to make quarterly public pension payments despite Gov. Chris Christie's strong opposition.

Sweeney responded Thursday to Christie's criticism of the proposed amendment during a State House news conference.

The plan would require the state to make payments to the pension fund totaling $3.1 billion by 2018. If the amendment happens, it would take the pension fund issue out of the governor’s hands.

Christie slammed the proposal and says that Sen. Sweeney cares more about pension employees than the common New Jersey resident.

“The Senate president is looking right at you and saying ‘I care more about them than I care about you. I care more about the 10 percent of people who are in the public pension system in this state,’” Christie said.

Sweeney said that years of shorting the pension fund have built up debts that the state Supreme Court ruled must be paid. He said his plan could save $8.5 billion in payments over 30 years.

The Senate president said that some of the pension fund gap can be filled with a millionaire’s tax. 

Sweeney said that he plans on putting the amendment on the November 2016 ballot for voters to decide. Constitutional amendments may be placed on the ballot for voters' input without the governor's approval if the Legislature approves them two sessions in a row.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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