Chris Christie, Governor of the State of New Jersey in the United States, is seeking a firm 2% limit on the pay raises that arbitration panels can award to firefighters and police in that state. A 2% limit had been in place, but the legislation expired in March 2014 and the State Assembly has not brought a revised bill to a vote.
The State Senate had approved a 3% limit with some provisions for a 2% limit, but after Governor Christie vetoed the bill, they quickly passed a revised bill acceding to Christie’s demands. The Assembly, however, must ratify the new bill. Controlled by the opposing Democratic party, the Assembly has so far failed to bring the bill to the floor.
Christie has been very blunt about the state of New Jersey’s finances, blaming much of the trouble on growing pension costs similar to those that caused the city of Detroit to declare bankruptcy last year. While New Jersey is not currently in a similar position, Christie warns that the final chance to “push the train backwards” is now, and part of his strategy is limiting the pay raises that arbitration panels can award first-responders. The governor has been trying to sell this idea via a series of public town hall meetings with constituents, but scandals hounding his administration have been a distraction.