News

The Latest: Union head: New Jersey pension ruling is 'theft'

TRENTON, N.J. – The Latest on the New Jersey Supreme Court upholding a 2011 law that suspended public pension cost-of-living payments (all times local):

11:05 a.m.

The head of New Jersey’s largest teacher’s union says a state Supreme Court ruling upholding the suspension of cost-of-living payments to pensioners is “theft, plain and simple.”

The court delivered a victory Thursday to Republican Gov. Chris Christie and ruled the state does not owe public pensioners cost-of-living payments suspended under a 2011 law. It effectively keeps the state from having its unfunded liability increased by about $17.5 billion.

New Jersey Education Association President Wendell Steinhauer says the decision takes away members’ promised payments and reinforces the need to pass a constitutional amendment that would require quarterly pension payments.

The Democrat-led Legislature is advancing the amendment, which could be on the ballot this November.

Christie opposes the pension amendment and regularly locks horns with the NJEA over pensions.

___

10 a.m.

The New Jersey Supreme Court delivered a victory Thursday to Republican Gov. Chris Christie and ruled the state does not owe public pensioners cost-of-living payments suspended under a 2011 law.

The 6-1 ruling effectively keeps the state from having its unfunded liability increased by about $17.5 billion and is the second significant victory for Christie over public unions on the pension issue.

Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, writing for the majority, reversed an appellate court’s ruling and said there isn’t enough proof that lawmakers intended to create non-forfeitable right to cost-of-living adjustments.

The court heard oral arguments in March in the case that reaches back to a nearly 5-year-old law passed by a Democrat-led Legislature and signed by Christie that suspended cost-of-living adjustments or COLAs.