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Judge hearing arguments in NJ pension case [AUDIO]

A judge is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit seeking to prevent Gov. Chris Christie from slashing this fiscal year’s payment into the public employees’ pension fund.

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Governor Chris Christie addresses budget shortfalls in Trenton. (Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen)

The governor said he has to slash the pension fund in order to keep the budget balanced. Union leaders, who are one of the plaintiffs in the case, argue that Christie is breaking his word and the law.

“The governor is violating the law — the law is very clear here,” said Hetty Rosenstein, New Jersey director for the Communications Workers of America. “You certainly don’t get to make a choice now and say, ‘I’m only going to pay for this because that’s what I want to do.”

The law requires the state to contribute $1.6 billion into the pension system this fiscal year, but Christie now plans to pay in $696 million. He signed an Executive Order to enable the lesser payment. If the court rules against Christie, it would knock this year’s budget out of balance and have the ripple effect of impacting the budget that begins July 1.

“This is a situation that is almost impossible to fix within two or three days,” said Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield). “It’s unlikely for the courts to demand that the legislature within three days find a billion dollars. What they’ll do long term I don’t know, but common sense dictates that that’s not the way the judge would go.”

In the June edition of Townsquare Media’s monthly “Ask the Governor” program Christie said regardless of the court ruling, there will be no government shutdown.

“A trial court decision is not going to close down the New Jersey government,” Christie said. “We would proceed to pass a budget and continue to appeal.”

It would appear that the case will not end with the judge’s first decision because Rosenstein said she won’t simply accept defeat either.

“I think any way this happens, the matter ends up getting appealed and going forward,” Rosenstein said.

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