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Gov Christie must cut funds to balance budget

Craig D. Frazier | 5/29/2014, 5:16 p.m.
Gov. Chris Christie tussled with Democrats for months during his first term to get a landmark public employee pension overhaul ...
Chis Christie

Gov. Chris Christie tussled with Democrats for months during his first term to get a landmark public employee pension overhaul passed in 2011. In January, the governor conceded in his State of the State address that it might not have been enough.

Under the governor’s current plan, the state’s pension and other debt payment obligations will rise by “nearly $1 billion” this year. Christie announced this week that he would not pay the state’s full pension obligations for the next two years, reneging on a bipartisan agreement that had turned him into a national star in his 2012 keynote speech to the Republican National Convention.

Credit agencies have modified the state’s bond rating six times, a record among New Jersey governors. New Jersey has one of the lowest credit ratings in the nation.

This will definitely divert attention from the George Washington Bridge scandal. Christie has predicted that the scandal would be old news by the time Americans choose their next president.

Former Christie campaign aide Matt Mowers spoke to legislators investigating the incident, saying he was “disappointed and disheartened” by the George Washington Bridge scandal. He repeatedly denied that he did campaign work on government time and said Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich feared retaliation from Democrats if he endorsed Christie. Democrats believe Sokolich’s refusal to endorse Christie was at the heart of the lane diversions that snarled traffic in Fort Lee in September.

Christie, who was forced to make a $2.4 billion cut in the state’s pension contribution to balance the budget, has repeatedly made it clear that he believes the only way out of the state’s deepening pension crisis is to “stop the insanity of a defined-benefit pension system that we cannot afford.”