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Christie continues push for benefit changes

The “No Pain, No Gain” message was carried out once again by Gov. Chris Christie, who brought his town hall tour to Ocean City on Thursday. Christie used a solid portion of the opening monologue to renew his call for a change to state worker pension and health benefits.

Governor Christie in Ocean City
Governor Christie in Ocean City (Townsquare Media NJ)

Christie told a boardwalk crowd the state’s pension system, currently underfunded by nearly $40 billion, will “eat us alive” if something isn’t done, and he can’t promise that current public employees will receive all the benefits they deserve during retirement.

“Anybody who says that they can, without making significant changes to the system, is not telling you the truth,” he said.

The governor recently announced the creation of a commission tasked with finding ways to curb the burden of the state’s benefit structure.

A nonpartisan study released this week found New Jersey offers one of the most expensive health benefit plans in the country. Christie used the findings to make his case for reform.

“Our health benefits are 39 percent more expensive than the national average,” Christie said. “It’s too rich. We can’t afford it.”

New Jersey taxpayers pick up 91 percent of the tab for public health plans, compared to the national average of 84 percent.

“The easiest thing in the world for me to do with three years left in my last term would be to just ride it out,” Christie added. “But I’m not going to do that. That’s not why I ran for this job. I didn’t run for this job to get a title.”

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