New Jersey's three largest pension funds for public workers sued Gov. Christie on Wednesday over his decision to cut contributions earlier this year.
The lawsuit was filed in Chancery Court on behalf of the Public Employees Retirement System, the Police and Fire Retirement System, and the Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund. Unions representing public workers previously sued over the contributions cut, which came after a surprise fiscal crunch this year.
"The unions were doing their thing on behalf of their membership," said Tom Bruno, chairman of PERS. "Our thing is a little different. Ours is a matter of trusteeship."
The funds also represent nonunion public workers.
One key accomplishment of Christie's first term as governor was an agreement to provide catch-up funding for pension funds. For decades, governors skimped on or skipped pension payments. As part of the agreement, retired public employees saw their cost-of-living increases suspended and current employees had to increase their retirement contributions.
In the spring, the state's tax receipts came in below expectations, causing a crunch both in last year's budget and the one for the fiscal year that started July 1. Christie filled the gaps mostly by cutting the state's pension contributions.
Democratic lawmakers and unions for public workers were outraged, saying the workers were making sacrifices but the governor was not holding up his end of the deal.
Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said in a statement Wednesday that the governor has contributed more to pensions than any other New Jersey governor and that the state needs further pension system changes so it can continue to fund schools, hospitals, drug treatment programs, and other priorities.