By Cleve Bryan
TRENTON, N.J., (CBS) — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is urging additional reforms to the state’s pension system to solve what he calls a “looming crisis”.
The Governor sounded the warning during his budget address.
In his fifth budget address, Governor Christie says he won’t create any new taxes yet will make the largest contribution ever to the public pension fund – $2.25 billion.
We’ve kept faith with our pensioners and our promise to them,” Christie said.
While keeping his end of the bargain to fund pension reform from 2011, Christie made it clear he would rather spend money on new initiatives not old mistakes.
“Together, we are cleaning up the mess of the past. But this simply is not enough,” Christie said.
Christie says between pension payments, rising healthcare costs and paying off debt – New Jersey is not able to grow its economy even as the national economy has been rebounding in recent years.
Despite opposition from Democratic leaders, Christie says further pension reform is necessary so free up money for other programs.
“If we do not get this tiger by the tail none of it will happen,” he said.
As for where Christie would like to increase spending, he announced additional funding for pre-school and school choice programs as well as an additional $159 million in aid to colleges and students.
There is also a $5 million innovation fund to figure out how to make school days longer.
Christie’s budget is an increase of 3.5 percent over spending last year, but Christie points out only a tiny portion is on new programs.
Pensions, health benefits and debt payments gobble up 94 percent of the extra spending.
“Nine out of every 10 dollars of new spending this year goes to fund these three entitlements,” the governor said.
“Let us remember the difficult choices we made together and choose to go further.”