New Jersey plans to make a record $4.6 billion pension payment under Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget for fiscal 2021.
He’s pledging to close the pension fund’s gap between assets and liabilities, though his payment would still fall short of the amount needed to keep the debt from growing.
“We’re already put in the two largest pension payments in the history of the state, and we’re going to up the ante in a big way,” Mr. Murphy said during an “Ask The Governor” phone-in program broadcast by News 12 New Jersey on Monday night.
Mr. Murphy also seeks a record $589.5 million for NJ Transit, the ailing commuter bus and rail operator that he has pledged to rebuild.
Mr. Murphy would pay for the move with funds for energy ratepayer fees and highway tolls, plus a shift to the agency’s operating budget from capital-improvement accounts.
The Democrat has criticized such practices, but says the money can’t be sourced elsewhere. Under former Gov. Chris Christie, the subsidy fell to a low of $33.2 million, leading to rising breakdowns and declining reliability, and
Mr. Murphy has promised to turn around the agency.
His proposals already face a legislative hurdle. Days before the budget address, Senate President Stephen
Sweeney, a Democrat often at odds with Mr. Murphy, outlined his own NJ Transit funding plan that would block a key source of the governor’s planned bus and train spending. And Mr. Sweeney said Monday he wants even more money for the worst-funded pension among U.S. state governments.