New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the state may not be able to make a pension payment in the next fiscal year.
State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said Wednesday that the state planned to make a $512 million contribution to the pension system in fiscal 2012, its first in four years.
“I think the treasurer got a little bit out in front on that,” Mr. Christie told reporters Friday in Trenton.
Mr. Christie skipped a $3 billion payment to the $66.9 billion fund in his first budget as he coped with a record $10.7 billion deficit. The fund had a gap between assets and anticipated payouts of $46 billion as of June 30, 2009.
The payment “is something that is required under current law,” he said. “Laws change all the time. That's our current intention, but that could change.”
The ability to make a pension payment depends upon the state's financial condition, Mr. Christie said. The nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services projected the state may face a deficit of $10.5 billion next year even as revenue grows $1 billion if Mr. Christie fully funds all programs and makes a recommended pension payment of $3.5 billion.
The governor said he intends to work with lawmakers later this year on a series of changes to lower future pension costs. Those initiatives may include scaling back a 9% pension increase enacted in 2001 and reducing future benefits for current workers, he said.