Christie hears cheers and boos for his pension and benefits plan

FAIR LAWN - Even as singing protestors were escorted out of his Bergen County town hall meeting this morning, Republican Gov. Christie described his historic pension and health benefits plan -- on the verge of passage in the Democratic Legislature -- as a bipartisan compromise that should be modeled by lawmakers in Washington.

"I believe and hope that tomorrow you will see Republicans and Democrats come together and do something they should have done a long time ago," Christie said. His bill, due for final approval by the state Assembly tomorrow, would force all public employees to pay significantly more toward their health and pension benefits.

Cheers for Christie's imminent political victory were mixed with boos. It was the governor's first public remarks since a compromise was hammered out with Democratic leaders last week.

"This is what democracy looks like, and this is what it sounds like, and this is what it feels like," Christie said.

At the beginning of Christie's remarks at a recreation center here, a handful of men and women stood up and began singing. They were identified as being part of the Lyndon LaRouche political movement. Some compared President Obama and Christie to Nazis, and at least one man sang "The Star Spangled Banner."

"For those of who are standing, there's some seats now available," Christie said after the protestors were escorted out.  A questioner said Christie should accept "responsibility that he's part of the problem" for not paying into the pension system last year.

Such payments are mandated but governor after governor has skipped payments 15 of the last 17 years, contributing to the insolvency. Christie said the teachers' fund would still only have 64 percent of the needed funds if all state contributions were made.

He said he deserves some "responsibility" for not paying into the fund in his first year in office, but also some credit for forcing a bipartisan compromise to fix the problem.