Legislators Argue For Their Pension Law

On Monday it was reported that in an “amicus brief made public today, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) announced that they plan to officially inform Superior Court Mary Jacobson of their disapproval of the state’s failure to make the payments” into the state pension plan as required by the 2011 pension law.

With that warning the Office of the Attorney General filed their opposition to these lawmakers getting involved in this case since their only connection is that they were named in the original complaint and they happen to have enacted the law being interpreted

The legislators’ amicus brief was filed today and among the points made therein:

The New Jersey State Senate and New Jersey State General Assembly were named as defendants in the original complaint (hereinafter referred to as “Legislative Defendants”). The Legislative Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on June 18, 2014, which was granted without prejudice by the Trial Court on June 25, 2014.

Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and General Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (hereinafter “Presiding Officers”) submit this Amicus Curiae brief to inform to the Court that the position taken by Attorney General on behalf of Governor Christopher Christie with regard to Chapter 78 of the Laws of 2011 (codified as N.J.S.A. 43:3C-9.5) is contrary to the Legislative intent and the position of the Legislature. Specifically, the Presiding Officers advise the Court that they believe Chapter 78 to be constitutional, and that it created a contractual obligation to systematic funding of the pension systems.

The statute clearly defines the contractual right as “that the employer or other public entity shall make the annual required contribution on a timely basis to help ensure that the retirement system is securely funded and that the retirement benefits to which the members are entitled by statute and in consideration for their public service and in compensation for their work will be paid upon retirement.”  The Legislature included the right to enforce the contractual obligation by stating that failure to make the annual required contribution “shall be deemed to be an impairment of the contractual right of each employee,” and conferred jurisdiction upon the Superior Court, Law Division, “over any action brought by a member of any system or fund or any board of trustees to enforce the contractual right” set forth in the statute. The clear and unambiguous language of Chapter 78 shows that the law created a contractual obligation on the part of the State to make the annual required contribution and gives the members of the pension systems, or their respective boards of trustees, the right to bring an action in the Superior Court, Law Division, to enforce the contractual right of each employee.

The unfunded liability of the pension systems was caused by the lack of annual funding, not from impermissible borrowing. While members made the required payments to their respective pension systems and earned their pension rights through their continued employment, the State failed to make the Annual Required Contribution, thereby creating the unfunded liability. When Chapter 78 was enacted, neither the Governor nor the Legislature questioned the amount of the unfunded liability or the danger to meet future pension payments if the ARC was not paid in accordance with the payment schedule set forth in L. 2010, c. 1.

There is a strong presumption of validity afforded to legislative enactments.

For all of the above-stated reasons, the Presiding Officers advise the Court that they consider Chapter 78 to be constitutional, that the Legislature intended to create a contractual obligation on the part of the State to make the annual required contributions, in accordance with the schedule set forth in L. 2010, c.l, and give members of the pension systems or their respective boards of trustees the right to bring an action in the Superior Court, Law Division, to enforce the contractual right of each employee.

27 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on April 22, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    John, would you agree that any law they make will not be followed? They fear not what they put into law, for they know they dont have to abide by any law they create.


  2. Posted by Tough Love on April 22, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Well, it looks like Sweeney left one major point out of that amicus brief …. that he NEEDS to do this to ingratiate himself with the Public Sector Unions in his bid to be NJ’s next Governor.


    • Posted by Anonymous on April 23, 2015 at 7:30 am

      Guess Sweeney’taking a page out of Christie’s playbook re: his gubernatorial letter lies to teachers and police & fire begging for their votes while swearing their pensions wouldn’t be touched – just saying.


  3. Posted by Anonymous on April 23, 2015 at 7:27 am

    Why not, an on the fence, split decision prediction, rule yes on pensions and no on health benefit ARC funding, citing any contractual obligation arising from c.78 can not override or be contray to the State constitution.


  4. Posted by Anonymous on April 23, 2015 at 9:32 am

    On Christie; love or hate, agree or disagree, realize P&B reform is inevitable or not one fact is undisputable he’s a bold face liar whose initial gubernatorial campaign was built on lies to gain public workets’ votes but not mine


    • Posted by Tough Love on April 23, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      Would he have been elected had he told you the TRUTH ….

      (a) that Public Sector Unions/workers are insatiably greedy,

      (b) with pension ROUTINELY 3x-4x greater in value at retirement than those of comparable Private Sector workers retiring at the SAME age, with the SAME cash pay, and the SAME years of service

      (c) with “platinum+” retiree healthcare, often free or with little cost to THEM, yet with a total cost for non-Medicare Family Coverage sometimes exceeding $35K annually

      (d) that the ONLY reason you have been granted such grossly excessive pensions & benefits is due to your Unions’ BUYING if the favorable votes of our Elected Officials with campaign contributions and election support

      (e) that your CURRENT pensions & benefits are grossly excessive by any and every reasonable metric, are unnecessary to attract and retain a qualified workforce, are patently unfair to Taxpayers responsible for 80%-90% of the total cost, and are very clearly unaffordable


      • Posted by BH on April 23, 2015 at 5:22 pm

        I’m gonna love when this all fades away into the sunset. What will you have left to say or do? Copy and pasting the same stuff over and over…. Ugh. Very repetitive. People tend to forget things really fast nowadays. Vested employees will get a pension. Taxes will go up. There may be concessions here and there, but public employees ESPECIALLY the safety pensions will be fine.


        • Posted by Tough Love on April 23, 2015 at 9:50 pm

          Well, you’re certainly going to get a serious case of acid indigestion when Plan assets hit zero in about 5 years (perhaps less), and the Retiree will be BEGGING the oppressed taxpayers to bail them out.

          Keep dreaming.


      • Posted by Anonymous on April 23, 2015 at 6:48 pm

        Got it, lie when it’s in you and your best interest sounds like you’re indicating that’s what Sweeny’s doing?


      • Posted by Anonymous on April 23, 2015 at 6:51 pm

        I’m going to put my foot in my mouth and allege you’re no blue collar worker and certainly not in the 99% class – just my gut but I’ve been wrong before.


        • Posted by Tough Love on April 23, 2015 at 9:56 pm

          Hey Anonymous …..

          You posted 7 of the 13 above comments ……. and you’re not a wee bit nervous that these Plans are going belly-up ………….. yeah right !


          • Posted by Anonymous on April 24, 2015 at 8:42 am

            Guess it depends where you are in the food chain, seems like I didn’t put my foot in my mouth. So the RNC lies, cheats, and steals for themselves and the 1%-2%, whereas the DNC lies, cheats, and steals for themselves and the 98%-99%. Still the best country in the world but it’s ashamed our political parties have each become so ideologically entrenched otherwise NJ and this Country might actually accomplish something!

          • Posted by Anonymous on April 24, 2015 at 8:50 am

            BTW to answer your question yes who in their right mind wouldn’t be but the reality is nothing more will get accomplished with this lying, dishonest, untrustworthy Governor unless the NJGOP get a spine and work with NJDEM to override him on a compromise solution. It ashamed because it’s bad for all NJ! Compromise a word long forgotten and seldom used anymore.

          • Posted by Tough Love on April 24, 2015 at 9:51 am

            You are beyond blinded by your greed What’s “best for NJ” and eminently needed is (at a MINIMUM), exactly what the NJ pension Commission has proposed:

            (a) the CURRENT absurdly generous and unaffordable Final-Average-Salary Defined Benefit Plans are frozen (zero future growth) for all CURRENT workers, and replaced for FUTURE service with a modest Cash Balance Plan ….. ….. at a level comparable to what Private Sector Taxpayers typically get.

            (b) the unfunded liability for PAST service under the frozen DB Plans is to be paid off over 30-40 years from saving generated by major reductions in the current (also absurdly generous and unaffordable) “platinum+” healthcare Plans now granted virtually all active and current workers ….. to a level comparable to what Private Sector Taxpayers typically get.

            That’s the NJ Commission speaking, not just me. Did you get the …” a level comparable to what Private Sector Taxpayers typically get.” …. twice ?

            Greedy little man !

          • Posted by Anonymous on April 24, 2015 at 9:59 am

            Your way off base but that’s just you and so the politicians, specifically the Governor is to be trusted to fund the frozen DBP over a predetermined time period? Of course not next up more benefit cuts that’s the problem with distrst it never ends. IF your assumption of the Commission’s results were the final end to this and the State could be trusted to keep their end of the bargain the conversation would be different. You’re the greedy individual, won’t specify sex as you don’t know mine.

          • Posted by Tough Love on April 24, 2015 at 10:49 am

            BS ….. the Commission’s proposal also turned over control of the pensions (AND the Assets) to the Unions.

          • Posted by Anonymous on April 24, 2015 at 1:06 pm

            BS, what does that stupid self serving idea have to do with the funding/benefit issues at hand. Wow the State wants to do the unions and PWs a big favor, turn over control of pension funds’ in shambles so they can shed their responsibility. Good luck with the likes of Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio desimating the working class of this country but then again being in the 1% you don’t give a s__t!

          • Posted by Tough Love on April 24, 2015 at 2:09 pm

            I see the suggestion to turn over to the Unions control of the pensions and it’s assets as having several strategic benefits (to the STate), not the least of which is the big $$$ pot that Union management can steal from. Oh I’d bet that Union management would just LOVEEEEEEE to get their hands on this giant pot of money. They don’t really give a crap about the Public Sector “workers”.

            Doubt me? According to Mr. Bury, NJ’s Plans are funded in the 30-40% range. I’d bet that the Union executive’s pensions are funded at 100+%.

            John, can we check that from an IRS 5500 filing, some other way ?

          • Search features at wwww.efast.dol.gov and http://www.freeerisa.com though you have to sign up to use freeerisa

          • Posted by Tough Love on April 24, 2015 at 2:20 pm

            Thanks John, I am familiar with and have used freeerisa, I just don’t now what the names of the Union’s Management Plans are, in order to look them up.

          • Searching for AFSCME might yield some results. First one I came up with was Philadelphia Municipal. Philadelphia was the worst funded big-city plan last I looked but the union’s plan is 100% funded per the latest filing:

          • Posted by Tough Love on April 24, 2015 at 3:16 pm

            Thanks John,

            Not surprising, that the Union Execs are looking out for #1 .. themselves. I’m quite sure we will find a similar situation with the NJ Union Exec’s Plans ..

            I’ll do some hunting …..

  5. Posted by Tough Love on April 23, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Quoting Gov. Christie on his attempts to reform NJ’s pensions:

    “If I succeed, that’ll be great,” Christie said. “But if the Legislature decides they’d rather cave to special interests that line their pocket with campaign money rather than do what’s better for the people of New Jersey, I don’t know how I’m a loser there.”

    Without further changes, Christie has warned that the pension system will go bankrupt.


    • Posted by Anonymous on April 23, 2015 at 6:42 pm

      So Christie lied to save us from ourselves and Sweeney is pandering to get union backing – sounds like the same thing to me just depends whether you happen to be on the upside or downside of who is pandering to who. Guess corporate America, especially aren’t insatiably greedy, oh I forgot that’s called capitalism.


    • Posted by Anonymous on April 23, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      Quoting reality, Christie’s in his own 1% fantasy world!


  6. Posted by Anonymous on May 23, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    TL and devout followers; individuals presenting a right wing conservative perspective based on half-truths and lies.

    TL continual posts repetitive misinformation citing sources with extreme ideology. Yet sumarial dismisses other posts with conflicting opinions and sources.

    Specifically, purposely misstated the tax status of public pensions in the following post; https://burypensions.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/christie-curses-out-nj-media/#comments When called to task tried to double talk their way out of it. Standard operating procedure for most of their commentary.

    Fair and equal for all is the mantra. Fair enough, but not when I suggest Federal workers and members of our beloved Armed Forces be part of the bigger conversation. The response, they’re different. But why, because they risk their lives like first responders at home. Their DBP are paid with Federal tax dollars as opposed to State or Local. Everyone knew the job risks when they accepted employment. But they also knew what their salary, pension, and benefits were supposed to be.

    To blame and demonize public workers for the current situation is unfair and untrue. Do politicians make “deals” with unions that don’t always have the taxpayers best interest? I think everyone knows the answer to that is yes. But politicians are always making “deals” it’s what they do. Just ask the various segment market corporations; defense spending (lucrative contracts), farming (subsidies) and the list goes on and on.

    Your bully tactics and demeaning attitude only motivate me more to push back your parties ridiculous vision for NJ and America. Yes I’m sure John knows all of our IP address, so you and your business name can be exposed as well.

    The purpose of continually posting this comment is to allow the counterpoint perspective to be heard. I will no longer personally engage your comments tit for tat.


  7. Practical ideas ! I Appreciate the information . Does anyone know where I can acquire a fillable a form form to complete ?


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