From from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's Deputy Press Secretary, Kevin Roberts:
There have been a lot of questions recently, and some confusion, about the impact and scope of the pension reform legislation signed into law (Bills S2, S3, S4) by Governor Christie on March 22nd. In addition to answering these questions for concerned citizens who have called our office, we wanted to make sure the most accurate information was available for you to view on this site.
Perhaps the most important misnomer is that the legislation will remove or substantially strip benefits from teacher pensions. Simply put, this is false. The reform bills signed into law apply to prospective hires only. What does that mean exactly? If you are a current public employee or current retiree enrolled in the state pension system, you will keep your benefits, period.
Those current employees (including teachers) who do not already do so will be required to contribute 1.5 percent of their salary towards their health benefits at the beginning of their next contract year.
However, many public employees already make this contribution and will not be effected. Any public employees already contributing the baseline 1.5 percent will not be required, as a result of this legislation, to contribute anything additional.
S2, S3 and S4 represent the beginning of our efforts to reform a system that is rife with abuse, that promises substantial payouts with little buy-in, and that provides benefits that are wildly out of proportion with the private sector. The bills were meant in no way to break any promises made to current public employees, but to begin securing the solvency and security of the system in the long-run.
Unfortunately, our state's pension system is dangerously out of balance and will require additional reforms to achieve long-term solvency. Governor Christie has pledged to continue working with stakeholders, the legislative leadership, and members of both parties to bring about additional reforms to fix the system in a responsible, fair and fiscally sound manner for New Jersey taxpayers.
Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democratic legislator and principle supporter of the reform package, authored a frequently asked questions-style column for the Trenton Times (that can also be found on NewJerseyNewsRoom.com) that addresses many of the questions surrounding the laws. It's a very informative read that can be found here.