New Jersey’s legislative gridlock is being blamed on a lack of political will to pass a bill that would fix the state’s pension system, a move some legislators say was intended to create a veto-proof majority.
The governor’s office released a statement Thursday, saying that, despite being “in the midst of the worst economic crisis in the nation,” legislators in the Garden State are focused on fixing what it calls a “fundamental, systemic problem.”
It added that they are “not afraid to be bold” and “re-elect lawmakers who are committed to making NJ the best place to raise a family and lead a successful life.”
“New Jersey lawmakers have shown leadership in the fight to restore our pensions, strengthen our schools, and get our state on the right track,” Gov.
Chris Christie said in the statement.
“The governor is committed to helping all New Jersey families succeed in the next economic downturn.”
Christie has repeatedly called on lawmakers to pass the bill he signed in January to create the New Jersey Teachers’ Retirement System.
The pension bill was championed by New Jersey Gov.
Tom Kean and other Democrats as a way to get rid of the $4.7 billion state government pension fund’s ballooning deficit, which has ballooned by more than $1 billion a month since it was created in the 1990s.
But the bill has stalled in the Republican-led legislature for months and was expected to be signed into law Thursday.
The latest setback came after New Jersey lawmakers failed to reach a compromise on how to fix the system’s long-term financial problems.
New Jersey officials are hoping to address some of those issues by holding a public hearing on the bill on March 18.
The bill would give the state Legislature the power to borrow money to fund state pension obligations for up to four years, allowing lawmakers to spend their time and resources on things like improving schools, fixing roads and bridges, and reforming state bureaucracy.
But Christie has insisted the legislation must be bipartisan.
The Assembly has passed the pension bill by a wide margin, with a majority of both the Democrats and Republicans voting in favor of the measure.
Christie has said the pension system is “structurally flawed” and he wants to make it work for the long-haul.
In December, he signed an executive order that put a $50 billion cap on state spending on pension benefits, and has repeatedly said the system needs a major overhaul.
But Republican lawmakers have said the bill does not go far enough and they have refused to support it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.