By Cleve Bryan

By Cleve Bryan

PITTSGROVE TWP, NJ (CBS) – Celebrating a bi-partisan effort to expand substance abuse treatment, both Governor Christie and NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney didn’t want to talk about the contentious effort to forge a budget in the next 12 days.

“I care about retirees and shoring up their pension,” Sweeney said reluctantly to a group of reporters Wednesday at the groundbreaking for an outpatient treatment facility at Daytop’s Pittsgrove location.

The Governor’s Office is expected to respond by Wednesday to lawsuits from New Jersey’s public unions on reducing payments to the pension fund in 2014 and 2105 by about $2.4 billion.

“We’re obligated to live up to the commitment, there’s a way to do this. The Governor doesn’t want to do it,” said Sweeney just hours before announcing an alternative to the Governor’s proposed 2015 budget.

The plan from Senate Democrats would raise $1.6 billion in revenue to make next year’s $2.25 billion pension payment.

The proposal calls for raising taxes on those earning more than $500,000 and adds a 15 percent business tax surcharge.

Christie vows to veto any tax increases.

A Mercer County judge will hear arguments on June 25 at 2 p.m. from unions suing Christie over the pension.

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