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Will State’s Pension Problem Mean Higher Taxes? [AUDIO]

During his latest town hall meeting in Fairfield, Gov. Chris Christie once again called for reforms to the state’s pension and health benefit systems.

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(David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ)
Gov. Chris Christie talks to residents during his latest town hall in Fairfield.

Christie said pension and health benefit payments for public sector workers, along with the state’s mounting debt, is taking an increasingly large bite out of the state budget.

“We can’t continue spending 94 cents of every new dollar in those three things, because that leaves 6 cents for everything else that you might care about,” Christie said. “We must have a new round of pension reform.”

The governor said legislative leaders insist there’s really no pension problem, and we’ll grow out of it, but Christie insists the system is under-funded.

The pension system is under-funded by $47 billion — do you all really believe we’re going to grow out of that problem? It doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

Christie said revenue is projected to grow at well over 5 percent next year, “so revenue is growing for the state, but we’re sweeping up all of it and spending it on this.”

If something doesn’t give, the governor predicts a dire scenario.

“We’ll be looking at either significant decreases in state services,” he said, “or significantly increased taxes.”

Christie then told the large Fairfield crowd, “You elected me to tell you about these things, and to try to deal with them, and that’s what we’re trying to do, but I can’t do it alone. The party is over and we need to change this system, cause it doesn’t work for the overall majority of New Jerseyans, and it’s going to affect each and every one of you and your families as we go forward. We can simply whistle a happy tune and ignore the problem, but the chickens are coming home to roost, everybody.”

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