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State pension crisis / Getting worse -

 pressofAtlanticCity.com: Editorials

The new figures underscore the need for swift action. The Legislature must pass Gov. Chris Christie's package of pension reforms - and Christie must make at least a minimal payment into the pension account this year.

Christie's reforms are tough but necessary. They include rolling back a 9 percent raise in pensions granted in 2001, increasing the pension payment for most public employees, increasing the retirement age and the years required for early retirement, and ending cost-of-living adjustments for retirees.

State Sen. Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, says those reforms won't happen unless Christie makes at least a minimal payment into the fund. That $500 million payment is just a fraction of what the state ought to be paying - and is required by a state law Christie himself signed less than a year ago. Still, the governor has hedged on whether he will make that mandatory payment this year because of the state's ongoing budget shortfalls.

Here's one suggestion: Politicians should think long and hard about enacting laws that cost money and make that budget shortfall worse. For example, the Legislature is advancing jobs-creation bills that would give hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to various businesses. And it is also considering a bill that would reduce state tax revenues by another $62 million by exempting retirement income from senior citizens earning up to $100,000.

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