Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday called for a new round of public employee pension concessions, setting the stage for a bitter budget battle with Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) over changes to their landmark pension legislation -- a confrontation in which Christie holds the ultimate power.
After a brief apology for the "Bridgegate" scandal that is already the subject of five investigations, Christie used his State of the State speech to argue that “further pension changes are needed” because the annual payments required to restore the pension system to solvency prevent the state from increasing the funding for education, crime prevention, infrastructure, and other needed programs or enacting a tax cut.
“For the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget, the increase in pension and debt service costs could amount to as much as nearly $1 billion,” Christie declared. “That’s nearly $1 billion we can’t spend on education. That we can’t invest in infrastructure improvement. That we can’t use to put more cops on the street.”
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