NJ's Christie, teachers mend relations to address pension gap

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 24, 2015 10:22 AM

(Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has won agreement from the state's teachers union on a "roadmap" for addressing its massive pension problem, a dramatic turn in a long-bitter relationship between the two camps.

Christie, a Republican weighing a bid for the White House in 2016, will reveal the development formally in his annual budget address on Tuesday afternoon in Trenton, the state capital, his office said in a statement.

Christie and the New Jersey Education Association have had an acrimonious relationship since he was elected governor in 2009, repeatedly clashing over his efforts to curtail benefits and overhaul tenure rules.

"I know we can get this done," Christie will say in his budget speech, according to excerpts sent by his office. "We have proven time and again that even when we look like we're not going to make it work and that politics and partisan interests have won, we flip the script."

Christie will announce at 2 p.m. that the union has "now come to the table and has signed on to and endorsed a roadmap for reform," his office said.

The union had no immediate comment on the governor's statement.

The development comes a day after Christie was dealt a setback by a state court judge, who ruled that his plan to cut $1.6 billion of contributions to the state retirement system violated the state constitution. The cuts were one of the lynchpins in his effort to close a $2.7 billion budget gap projected through fiscal 2015.

(Reporting by Luciana Lopez; Writing by Dan Burns and Megan Davies; Editing by Dan Grebler)