GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wants to make public employees pay more for their health and pension benefits.
Christie on Tuesday proposed rolling back a 9 percent benefit increase granted a decade ago. He also would require public workers to contribute 8.5 percent of their salaries toward retirement and would raise the retirement age to 65 for teachers and state workers with less than 25 years in the system.
He proposed reducing pension payments by 5 percent for police and firefighters who retire after 25 years, and would make public safety employees work five additional years to get 65 percent of their salaries as pension. Police and firefighters can now retire after 25 years regardless of age for 65 percent of their salary.
He also proposed making workers pay more for health benefits; the higher contributions would be phased in over four years. Christie also would eliminate cost-of-living adjustments to retirees' pensions.
Christie said pension and health benefits reforms are needed to keep the state's pension systems solvent long-term.
He laid out his plan during a town hall meeting in Gloucester Township at a senior center jammed with more than 150 people.
The pension system is $46 billion shy of liabilities. The health benefits system is underfunded by $67 billion.
Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney says the Senate won't consider additional reforms until the state stops shorting the system and begins making its annual payment.
The state skipped a $3 billion payment this year.
Christie said pension system debt will continue to grow without reforms, even if the state makes its full contribution.