Chris Christie had some honest words about the state of underfunded union benefits at a Hanover Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday: “We don’t have the money, we simply don’t have the money, and I told you we need to get the money.” He says union leaders knew there wasn’t some “secret stash” of money to pay for their "demands" made using "political muscle."
When a shop steward for public-works employees in Hanover Township complained about Christie's $2.4 billion of cuts to the state's scheduled contributions into the pension system, Christie said the measures he'd have to take without making cuts would prompt residents to "evacuate" the state:
“If folks want me to raise the sales tax to 10 percent, and want me to raise income tax on every working New Jerseyan by another 29 percent, and if you think that what ultimately will happen will be that people won’t evacuate this state like their clothes are on fire, which will create an even bigger problem for us. That’s the only way you do it that way."
Govorner Christie tried to make it clear the union leaders are not blameless and then corrected the notion that paying a minimum amount into the pension plan is not enough money. A possible solution he offers is to take the politicans out of pension planning and let unions manage them for their own members:
“Your union leaders, too, knew that it wasn’t getting paid for.
They wanted to come to you and say, guess what? We just got you n/55 on your pension. How about that? Aren’t we the best? Guess what? We just got your health benefits increased. You get even better benefits now and you don’t have to pay any more."
"The benefits, even when everyone is making their payments, don’t add up.”
Govorner Christie says he understands they are angry and feel betrayed and wants to help solve this problem, and that the first step to doing so is facing the reality of the situation.