New Jersey State Senator Shirley Turner is accusing state officials of playing roulette with public sector worker's retirement money by placing dangerous investment bets on high risk hedge funds.

Stacy Proebstle, Townsquare Media
Stacy Proebstle, Townsquare Media

She's introducing legislation would prohibit investment by the state of pension and annuity funds in hedge funds and derivative contracts.

Turner says she's heard reports "that 23 percent of the pension funds now are being invested in these unregulated risky hedge funds - and this has got to stop immediately. The purpose of the pension fund is not to gamble - you can't gamble with retirees money…And I think that we need to stop it now because the plan is to increase that 23 percent to 30 percent."

She points out the state pension fund currently "is woefully, severely under-funded because we haven't made regular deposits for 15 years…So at this point, it looks as if now, they're trying to make up for those skipped payments by gambling on an aggressive, high-risk investment strategy…That is wrong and I don't think we should allow it to continue."

"It's high-risk high-reward, but so far the hedge funds the state has invested in have not returned the 8.2 percent that they had anticipated - this past year they've only returned 2.9 percent…The state pension fund is in a hole, and they're looking to dig themselves out by gambling on these high risk investments. My attitude has always been if you find yourself in a hole, the best thing to do is stop digging, and when you start gambling and risking so much, you just dig yourself deeper into that hole…We need to stop this now because it's very dangerous."