N.J. Police union chief bashes Christie on pension record

TRENTON — New Jersey’s police union didn’t wait for Gov. Chris Christie’s to mention pensions in his State of the State today to criticize the governor’s record on supporting the state’s ailing retirement system.

Patrick Colligan, president of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, said he expects Christie to propose significant reductions to health care and pension benefits and then soon after release a report from his pension commission on recommendations for shoring up the system.

Over the summer, Christie tasked the bipartisan commission with proposing solutions to overhaul the system, which includes $53 billion in unfunded health care benefits and $37 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. The pension portion of the unfunded liabilities has since doubled to $83 billion under new accounting rules.

Two of the largest public worker pension funds face insolvency by 2024 and 2027.

Colligan said he’s learned what recommendations the commission will make, and has provided feedback on its “inaccuracies and shortcomings.”

In the note, Colligan reminded the union’s 33,000 members that Christie declared “we saved their pensions” by enacting reforms in 2011 in his 2012 State of the State, and that “our pension system, which was on a path to insolvency, is now on much more sound footing.”

This was simply “the kind of bait and switch we have come to expect from Gov. Christie’s ‘promises,’ Colligan told his members. “We must remember that we are little more than pawns in the governor’s mission to become a candidate for national office.”