NJ Passes Sweeping Worker Benefit Overhaul
Bill's passage marks big win for Christie, defeat for unions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2011 11:42 PM CDT
A large gathering of public employee union members and supporters protest outside the Statehouse in Trenton.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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(Newser) – Amid Wisconsin-style drama, New Jersey's Democrat-controlled legislature passed a plan to force public workers to pay more for benefits. The measure, bitterly opposed by the state's powerful unions, has already passed the state senate and Chris Christie is expected to sign it into law as soon as Friday, reports the Star-Ledger. Under the plan, some benefits will be cut and unions will lose their ability to collectively bargain for medical benefits.

The bill passed the legislature by 46 votes to 32, with 14 Democrats in favor and 32 against. Thousands of protesters—some carrying their trademark inflatable rat—gathered outside the legislature as lawmakers debated the plan, which Christie estimates will save $120 billion in pension costs over 30 years. "We are putting the people first and daring to touch the third rail of politics in order to bring reform to an unsustainable system, " he said.