February 24, 2015
If you listened to Governor Christie’s budget message delivered on Tuesday, you would think NJ has only one problem: public workers’ pensions and healthcare. Coming the day after a Superior Court said the state must meet its pension fund obligations, Governor Christie’s budget was long on blame and short on solutions.
He had almost nothing to say about health care benefits, jobs, or the transportation trust fund, even though our roads and bridges are crumbling and NJ still lags the nation in economic recovery. And every healthcare worker knows our Department of Health is woefully underfunded and understaffed for fulfilling its mission.
HPAE members at Rutgers, University Hospital and Runnells’ Specialized Hospital all contribute to their own pension and health care coverage – as do other healthcare workers. In fact, the average New Jersey public employee is paying more for individual health insurance coverage than government workers in any other state. Worker contributions went up under the same 2011 law that required Governor Christie to increase the state’s payments into the pension funds. But Governor Christie walked away from that promise – on Monday, NJ’s Superior Court said he violated the law and our rights in doing so.
NJ’s pension fund is underfunded – after years of failing to make the necessary payments, including Governor Christie’s pension fund cuts in this current fiscal year. But Governor Christie’s unwillingness to provide the resources we need to re-build our economy and our infrastructure is not because of our members’ retirement funds or healthcare coverage. The lack of resources in our state budget has more to do with the Governor’s corporate tax cuts and giveaways, and his unwillingness to support an increase in the income tax on millionaires.
HPAE members will join the fight to protect all of our members’ retirement security and healthcare coverage. We will fight for a fair budget that provides funding for education, for rebuilding our roads and bridges and our economy. We will continue our fight for patient safety, and for the resources needed to build the middle class in New Jersey.