3. New Jersey is broke. The pension and health reform of 2010 remains Christie’s landmark achievement. But it has a dark side. It requires the state to make enormous payments into the pension funds to make up for years of neglect by Christie’s predecessors.
Those payments are $1.7 billion this year and will balloon to more than $5 billion in 2018.
Wall Street is not convinced that New Jersey can do it and has lowered the state’s bond rating on Christie’s watch.
In his State of the State address Tuesday, Christie hinted that Wall Street might be right: He suggested punting on at least some of these pension payments, a move that Democrats who risked their political necks to support the reform regard as a betrayal.
Meanwhile, Christie has drained funds he inherited that were earmarked for open space and transportation projects without proposing a method to replenish them.
So while he signed big tax cuts during his first term, he won’t be able to during his second. Any new initiatives, like his plan to expand the school day and school year, only add to the pressure.