N.J. Supreme Court to release pension case decision on Tuesday


NEW YORK (Reuters) – New Jersey’s Supreme Court will release its decision on Tuesday on whether Governor Chris Christie violated public pensioners’ contractual rights when he slashed $1.6 billion from the state’s fiscal 2015 public pension contribution.

The court clerk’s office said in a media notification that the opinion would be released at 10 a.m. EDT.

Christie made the cuts last year because of a large, unexpected revenue shortfall. The cuts prompted lawsuits by public sector unions and retirees, who won in lower court when a state judge decided that 2011 pension reforms created a contractual right obliging the state to pay its fair share into the retirement system.

Even if the court does order Christie to restore the funding, the state has said it does not have the money to make the full payment.

“Tomorrow’s pension ruling is important for New Jersey and our economic health,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney said in a statement.

Sweeney, a Democrat, said lawmakers expect to pass a 2016 budget before the end of this fiscal year on June 30, one that fully funds the required pension payment.

They would do it through a tax hike on the state’s high-income earners, a so-called millionaires tax” that Christie has repeatedly vetoed in the past.

(Reporting by Megan Davies and Hilary Russ; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Leslie Adler)

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