Hundreds rally againt Christie plan to cut N.J. payments to pension system

 Unionized public workers rally outside the New Jersey Statehouse (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Unionized public workers rally outside the New Jersey Statehouse (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Hundreds of public employee union members rallied outside the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton to protest Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to cut the state’s contribution to the pension system.

The language in a law enacted in 2011 requires the payments to be made, said Hetty Rosenstein, New Jersey director of the Communications Workers of America.

“No responsible leader actually recommends reneging on a debt as if he is stiffing a buddy on a sports bet,” she said to clamorous cheers.

Last month, Christie called for cutting $2.5 billion in planned state pension contributions for public workers between now and June 2015 because of flagging tax revenues.

But costs of the scheduled payments could be covered by reinstating a tax surcharge on millionaires and getting rid of tax subsidies for corporations, said Wendell Steinhauer, president of the New Jersey Education Association.

“Just those two things would be more than enough to make both of the pension payments that he’s threatening to withhold,” Steinhauer said.

Analilia Mejia, executive director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, said the governor is breaking the law by not making a full payment into the pension system.

A judge has scheduled a hearing later this month on a lawsuit filed by 14 unions that challenges the pension-payment reductions.

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