Earlier this month New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. For the people of New Jersey, this will hopefully mean serious financial issues the state is facing can now be addressed. Christie virtually ignored his state while pursuing his presidential ambitions and New Jersey desperately needs some real leadership to fix its underfunded public pensions. For the American people, the end of Christie’s presidential campaign means their chance of retiring with dignity lives to see another day. Christie not only has a terrible record on public pensions, but he also has misguided positions on Social Security and retirement security as well.
We’ve documented Christie’s history of intentionally underfunding public pensions in New Jersey. He has repeatedly broken his promises and harmed New Jersey’s public employees and taxpayers in the process. State Senate President Sweeney has attempted to fill the leadership vacuum by proposing quarterly pension payments, but New Jersey needs a governor who is committed to adequately funding the pensions in order to meet its promises to public employees and retirees.
We’ve also documented Christie’s bad ideas on on Social Security. In addition to proposing to raise the retirement age for Social Security, Christie also proposed raising the retirement age for early retirement under Social Security. Raising the retirement age for early retirement would be particularly harmful to a number of people who take early retirement for health reasons.
Finally, Governor Christie has also been bad on other aspects of retirement security. He recently vetoed a “retirement security for all” bill that would have increased retirement options for those in the private sector. That bill would have created the Secure Choice Savings Program in New Jersey. Businesses with 25 or more employees would have been required to set up payroll deduction into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). About 1.7 million people in New Jersey don’t have access to a retirement plan through their employer. Instead, Governor Christie is proposing a “marketplace” of retirement plan options where employees could shop for retirement savings plans. It’s hard to see how this decidedly pro-business move is much different than the status quo.
New Jersey’s public pensions have been underfunded for decades by both Democratic and Republican governors. Governor Christie, however, has been particularly egregious in underfunding the pensions and violating his own law to do so. Combine this with his bad positions on Social Security and his dismissal of other retirement savings options, and it is hard to see how New Jerseyans are going to overcome the looming retirement security crisis in their state.