Governor Chris Christie has unveiled a plan for filling the $800 million gap in New Jersey's budget by delaying pension payments for state employees. Christie says this will save him from having to cut education funding or money for developmentally disabled or drug rehab programs.
The $800 million gap is a result of overly optimistic revenue projections and must be closed by the end of the fiscal year on June 30th. But budget problems are nothing new for the state and Christie is hardly the first governor to raid the state's pension fund to plug holes in the state budget.
So what's the problem with New Jersey? And why can't anyone seem to do anything about it?
"I think the problem really comes down to spending discipline...in terms of the level of services that we offer and the cost per unit of service that is provided," said Tom Byrne, and vice chairman of the New Jersey Investment Board, which supervises the state pension fund. "We have a day of reckoning here that's been postponed due to a variety of gimmicks, but the gimmicks have probably run out."