Chris Brown on NJ benefits legislation

BROWN for State Assembly

NJ’s 2nd Legislative District

Chris Brown Applauds Bi-Partisan Effort That Led To Pension/Health Benefit Reforms

Assembly candidate says Polistina & Amodeo vote was needed to stabilize pension funds and protect financial health of the state.

Egg Harbor Township, June 24, 2011 ? District 2 Assembly candidate Chris Brown (R-Ventnor) today commended the actions taken by Assemblymen Vince Polistina and John Amodeo who joined with Senate President Steve Sweeney and voted for a package of broad reforms that will stabilize the state’s distressed pension and health benefit system.

“Yesterday’s passage of reform legislation signaled a significant turn in the way our elected officials work to solve our biggest problems ? for once, they worked together in a bi-partisan fashion and for a common interest,” stated Chris Brown.

“Perhaps the sheer magnitude of the problem forced our elected leaders to tone down the rhetoric and focus on developing a collective solution, but whatever the cause, it’s refreshing.”

On Thursday, New Jersey lawmakers approved an agreement to revamp the pension and health benefits for public employees with landmark legislation designed to save state and local governments over $120 billion over the next 30 years.

“It’s been evident for some time that changes to the state’s pension and health benefits system would be necessary and we should give credit to our elected officials for making the best out of a bad situation and putting together a reform package that required a great deal of compromise from both sides,” said Brown. “This shouldn’t be seen as a victory for the governor, or a defeat of the unions, but as a win for taxpayers.”

New Jersey has an unfunded pension liability of $54 billion and ranks among the worst-funded in the nation. The long-term debt and unfunded pension liability amounts to $7,200 per person. The unfunded liability for the state’s health benefits is even worse, a total of $68 billion. These mounting pension and health care costs could potentially bankrupt the state and local governments.

“Given the financial strains and unsustainable nature of the system, the reform package was absolutely necessary and will provide the system with sound financial footing, while protecting the pensions and health benefits of low- to middle-income workers,” concluded Brown.

While some union leaders were against the reform legislation, others said they would not oppose pension reform as long as state and local governments would be forced to make the required pension payments.

“For years, our governors and legislature failed to put money into the pension system by skipping or making partial payments,” Assemblyman John Amodeo explained. “We needed immediate changes to the pension and health benefits system to protect against insolvency and this reform package will ensure that the state’s pension funds will be replenished accordingly.”

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