Chris Christie Set to Take on State Pensions

Stephen Gutowski | August 3, 2010
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Well it has been a little while since I've written about New Jersey's conservative governor Chis Christie. Thankfully State House Steps has given me a new, and darn good, reason to write about the sexiest man alive... you know, politically speaking. That reason? Pension reform. Yes:

How about dropping that bomb right before he goes on vacation? This is hilarious. I mean think about it... liberals have been dying for Christie to go on vacation and give them a break for a while and right as he's about the head out the door... BOOM:

Just before leaving for a two week vacation, Governor Chris Christie was asked about reforming the state's public employee pension system. He was asked if the situation with the underfunded pension system is irreparable. He said, "Irreparable is a pretty big word. I don't know about irreparable, but we better act this fall." "Is is safe to say that we have tens and tens of billions of dollars in unfunded liability in the pension program and that it continues to increase," explained Christie. "We have tens of billions of dollars. You don't know where exactly to place it. It depends on the day and what return on investments you assume."

Frankly, though, as much as the left is going to need this break to gear up against Christie hes going to need it even more if hes going to try and reform state pension plans. Cutting spending, balancing the budget, reforming tax law, cutting superintendent's absurd salaries, and making teachers' unions look like whinny greedy 5 year olds is all hard enough but reforming even an obviously disastrous state pension system is going to be a more difficult task. I hope he's prepared to have every state employee union scream at him like he was a murderer whose only desire in life was to see police officers and other public servants starving in the gutter. The left is going to try and make this even more of a blood bath than all of his other fights combined. However, there is no other option than to fight the good fight and, thank God, Christie realizes it:

The situation is dire. Democrat governors kept giving unions all that they wanted without considering the economic realities of the state. Governor Christie pointed out that former Governor Donald DiFrancesco, a republican who took governorship after Christie Whitman went to work for President George W. Bush, signed a 9% increase in pension benefits. [...] the state of NJ has tens of billions of dollars of unfunded liabilities, which is unsustainable. In 2008, the Pew Research Center projected that state pension plans are $731 billion short of meeting their $2.7 trillion obligation in coming decades. The 2008 and 2009 economic downturn has substantially aggravated that situation. Meanwhile, actuarial studies suggest contribution rates for public employees are lagging benefit cost, meaning the problem is due to get worse.

Unsustainable is putting it lightly. Jersey's state pensions are a disaster in desperate need of exactly the kinds of changes a man like Christie has the guts to push for. Lets just hope and pray that the people of New Jersey remain as sensible as they've been throughout Christie's other reform initiatives.