TRENTON, N.J., May 20 (UPI) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced a plan today to cut public-worker pension funding in half to address an unexpected $2.75 billion gap in the state budget.
At a news conference in Trenton, Christie said the state would pay $696 million into pension funds this year -- less than half of the scheduled $1.58 billion payment. 2015 will see even more cuts, with New Jersey only paying $681 million into pension funds instead of the $2.25 billion previously budgeted.
Payments on behalf of active public employees will still be covered, but unpaid money owed from previous years will not be made up in the next two. This could open the state up to a number of individual and class action lawsuits on behalf of public employees, bad news for the state's already troubled credit rating which just took its sixth downgrade since Christie took office in 2010.
"Today I'm doing what I need to do to fulfill my constitutional obligation to balance a budget," Christie explained.
Today I'm going to pledge to make the payments that we need to make to not dig the hole any deeper. But in a time when we're confronted with this kind of challenge, I cannot also pay for all the sins of my predecessors.