TRENTON – Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean today said the ability of the state to keep its promise of a secure retirement for career public employees would be jeopardized without a constitutional guarantee that future lawmakers and Governors could not shirk their annual pension obligations.
The Senate leaders jointly proposed a constitutional amendment (SCR-1) that would require the state to annually meet its obligation for each pension plan it operates. But they noted that even if the state had made its full payments over the past decade, the system would still be nearly 30 percent underfunded – highlighting the need for the reforms the Senate unanimously passed last week to secure the pension system’s foundation.
Sweeney said the Senate will vote on the amendment during its March 11 session.
Following today’s public hearing, Sweeney and Kean released the following statements:
Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem): “This is a fiscally sound way for the state to ensure the solvency of its public pension system. But putting the system back in the black will take not only the state meeting its obligation, but a commitment from the unions to close a hole they helped dig. It’s time the union leaders stop their misinformation campaign and support what they know is in the best interests of their members.”
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean (R-Union/Essex/Morris/Somerset): “This proposed amendment, and the pension reform package as a whole, is a step in the right direction. For years, both parties have not honored the commitment to fully fund the state’s pension and health benefits system. This package of reform measures will begin to put these funds back on the road towards solvency and constitutionally bind the state to its fund obligations in years to come.”