Christie Vetoes 2015 Pension-Paying Budget

Mr. Christie’s reputation as a rising star in the Republican Party was built on the pension agreements in 2010 and 2011. The next year, he told the Republican National Convention that he had fixed the problem of rising costs for state employees — a problem that bedevils states across the country.

The two agreements required state employees to pay more toward their benefits, but in return pledged that the state would make its full annual contributions to the pension fund, which governors have ignored or shortchanged since the 1990s.

When revenues, particularly from income taxes, came in lower than he anticipated for 2014, Mr. Christie said he would not make the full pension payment for that year or for the 2015 fiscal year, which begins Tuesday.

More than a dozen state employees’ unions sued, as the legislation allowed, saying that the governor had planned badly — making overly optimistic bets about how much revenue the state would take in, and not cutting spending or raising taxes to insulate the budget against a revenue shortfall.

The court said last week that the governor did not have to make the payments for 2014, largely because he simply could not; given the budget crisis, Judge Mary C. Jacobson said he was “between a rock and a hard place.” But she withheld judgment on the payments for 2015, pending the governor’s signing of a budget for that year.

The Democratic-led Legislature then approved a budget that made the payments, by raising taxes on incomes above $1 million for three years, and by imposing a one-year corporate tax surcharge. In his veto on Monday, the governor called the methods “irresponsible and ineffective.”

Democrats had hoped that with the outline of a budget including the payments, the court would decide that the governor had an option to make the full payment, and therefore could not skip it.

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