TRENTON, NJ (CBS) – Several thousand police and firefighters held a rally today outside the New Jersey capitol. Theirs are the latest unions to go after New Jersey governor Chris Christie as he continues his efforts toward pension and benefit reform in the state.
The message from those gathered here was, “give us what you promised” — specifically, fully funded pensions. And hands off health care.
“If they had been paying their contributions for the last 15 years, as they’re required to by law, our pension systems wouldn’t be in danger,” said state Fraternal Order of Police official Steven Demofonte, a retired Mount Laurel, NJ police officer.
But those pension systems are in danger now, and Christie — meeting with reporters during the two-hour rally (right) — insisted he won’t sit by idly and allow them to go bankrupt, which he says they could in as little as nine years without action.
“We’re going to deal with it, because if we don’t, we are headed into the fiscal abyss, and all those guys and women out front… there won’t be a pension for them to collect,” the governor told reporters.
Christie suggested that in towns where there have been drastic layoffs, like Camden, public safety unions made a choice to keep wages and benefits as they are, so they have no one to blame but themselves.
Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio 1060