Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey will announce in a speech in Trenton Tuesday that the New Jersey Education Association has endorsed the Republican's "roadmap" for pension reform. Christie, who made a national name for himself over his public battles with teachers unions in the Garden State, will be coming "full circle" by having the the state's largest teachers union "come to the table" to negotiate a proposal.
According to the governor's office, Christie will ask the state legislature to vote for a set of reforms to the state's pension program, while Christie has said the state will make a $1.3-billion payment to the fund. The governor had attempted to cut $1.57 billion from the fund in his budget, but on Monday a New Jersey judge ruled with public-sector unions, who argued the cut was against state law.
Here's more on Tuesday's announcement, from the Star-Ledger:
The NJEA has been a fierce opponent of the Republican governor since he was first elected in 2009. The teachers union opposed his initial efforts for pension and health care benefit reforms and spent more than $30 million since 2010 to combat Christie.
According to remarks provided by the governor's office ahead of the speech, Christie will call on the Legislature to "act in a bipartisan, constructive way to achieve needed changes to a problem that is so big" that doing nothing "will only ensure our state's fiscal standing will never improve and we will never grow economically."
"I am committed to working with each and every one of you in good faith to make a promise to the people of this state that we will not push this off," Christie will tell lawmakers, according to speech excerpts.
There is no final agreement between Christie and the NJEA on a pension-reform plan, the governor's office clarifies. The two parties have simply agreed to work together to develop a proposal for the legislature.
Christie has inspired anger and much more from teachers union officials, particularly during his push for reform of New Jersey's defined benefits program for state employees during his first term. One union leader from a local NJEA affiliate once "joked" about wishing for the Christie's death.
Christie is believed to be considering a bid for the White House in 2016.