NJ COLA Quotes

“Restoring cost-of-living pension hikes for N.J. public workers gets new life as inflation soars” was the headline of a lengthy article in nj.com through msn.com but the upshot was that it is not going to happen as politicians out of office and even some union representatives are wary, judging by these excerpts:

In an interview last week with NJ Advance Media, Christie called restoring COLAs now “an awful idea at the wrong time,” saying it would undermine the state’s progress on pensions and stressing the law he signed allows the adjustments to return once the system is in better financial shape.

“Using current inflation issues as the excuse for it is just baloney,” he said. “The only people that are gonna get hurt in the long run are the taxpayers of the state.”

Former state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat who worked closely with Christie on the bipartisan pension reforms, agreed. He said the move would be “insane.”

“We’re talking about affordability, and you’re gonna do this now? I’d love to get the workers a COLA, but we’ve got to pay for it,” Sweeney told NJ Advance Media.

…………………

Christie said the move would put the state’s pension fund in a “perilous position.”

“If the future administrations continue to do what we did in terms of funding the pension and what the Murphy administration has done in terms of funding the pension, they’ll get the COLA back,” the former governor said of retirees. “But they’ll get it back at a time when the fund can afford to pay it.”

………………………

Even public-worker unions, many of whom once opposed freezing COLAs, are leery of restoring them now.

Rob Nixon, director of government relations for the state Policemen’s Benevolent Association, said these workers “should have never had their COLAs taken away.”

“But this bill is not the vehicle to do it,” Nixon added.

Steve Baker, a spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, called a decade without COLAs “one of the devastating consequences of the state’s failure, over many years, to uphold its end of the pension bargain by paying its fair share.”

But, Baker added, “we need to be extremely cautious about any abrupt changes that could threaten” the progress the state has made with the pension system.

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