Dem leaders adamant that $2.4 billion go to N.J. pension fund

As Gov. Chris Christie puts the finishing touches on the budget proposal he will unveil Tuesday, top Democrats in the New Jersey Senate are insisting that the spending plan include the required state payment into the pension system.

Acknowledging that formulating a budget plan will mean many difficult choices, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said making the $2.4 billion pension payment and funding the Transportation Trust Fund are paramount.

“There are a lot of major issues that need to be decided in the next fiscal year, and I believe that this could be the most difficult budget that this administration has had to deal with,” said Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen.

Without a commitment by Christie for a full pension payment, Senate President Steve Sweeney said, Democrats will not approve a new budget.

Sweeney said he is looking forward to hearing how Christie plans to grow the state’s economy and increase revenues so funding can be increased for schools and other necessary improvements.

Sweeney has suggested increasing the income tax on millionaires could help relieve budget pressures, but the governor has opposed any tax hikes.

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