- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The state board responsible for overseeing New Jersey’s nearly $80 billion public pension system has a new chairman.

Brendan Thomas “Tom” Byrne Jr. was elected chairman of the State Investment Council during Wednesday’s meeting at the War Memorial.

Byrne takes the helm of the board as Gov. Chris Christie continues to struggle against public-sector unions and Democrats who control the Legislature over how much to pay into their retirements. A judge recently ruled Christie and lawmakers must make a $1.57 billion payment into the system, but the governor is appealing the judgment.

Christie tapped Byrne last year to serve on a different commission tasked with coming up with an overhaul of the public pension system. That panel unveiled what Christie calls a “roadmap for reform” that includes freezing the current pension system, transferring control to labor unions and enacting a constitutional amendment to guarantee funding.

Democrats who control the Legislature have balked at the idea.

Byrne’s selection was expected. He has served as acting chairman since Robert Grady, a close ally of Christie’s, resigned in November.

Byrne founded Princeton-based Byrne Asset Management and is the son of former two-term Democratic Gov. Brendan Byrne.

The council on Wednesday also selected Adam Liebtag, president of Communication Workers of America Local 1036, as vice chairman.

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