TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The leader of the New Jersey Senate says pension and health care benefits for the average public safety worker cost local governments $47,000 a year.

He says those costs will cause the systems to collapse unless workers start paying more. Senate President Stephen Sweeney said Wednesday that pension and health benefits reforms he’s proposed are designed to keep the systems solvent, not hurt workers.

Unions representing police, firefighters, teachers and government workers oppose the reforms. They call for public-sector workers to pay a greater share of health insurance premiums and contribute a greater percentage of their salaries toward their pensions.

Sweeney’s health care proposal is similar to a plan drafted by Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Public safety workers plan to protest outside the Statehouse Thursday.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Content On CBSPhilly

Watch & Listen LIVE