Muni Minute: Pension Referendum Deadline Hits Home Stretch

In the latest installment of Muni Minute – The Bond Buyer's 60-second video series that examines a top municipal market story that will impact the coming week – we take a look at a crucial week facing New Jersey and efforts by state lawmakers to place a referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot that if passed would decrease pension liabilities.

VOICE OVER: A proposed long-term solution to New Jersey's pension funding crisis faces a crucial test this week. A constitutional amendment that would require quarterly pension payments must be adopted by August 8, in order to go before voters this November. The assembly has already passed the pension referendum bill and State Senate President, Steve Sweeney has said advancing the legislation this year is a priority.

If the ballot measure were approved, the Garden State would be on pace to make full actuarially required pension payments by 2022. The state's unfunded liability would also be cut by a projected 4.9 billion over 30 years. Moody's data shows that New Jersey entered 2016 with 40 billion in pension liabilities. Governor Chris Christie opposes the pension proposal saying it would cost taxpayers 3 billion. The Republican governor has clashed with labor unions over pension cuts in recent state budgets.

New Jersey has the second lowest credit rating of the 50 U.S. states with underfunded pensions cited as a major factor. I'm Andrew Coen and this has been your Muni Minute.