APP.com: Opinion: N.J. needs a (budget) fix: Sweeney

Our state faces a dire fiscal crisis that threatens our economic future, our housing values and the quality of life of every New Jerseyan.

New Jersey is a great place to live and raise a family. But let’s be honest, New Jersey is in a major fiscal crisis.

New Jersey’s unfunded liability for pensions and retiree health benefits for teachers and state government workers now tops $150 billion — four times the size of the state budget. That’s $16,600 in pension debt for each and every New Jersey resident — over $66,000 for a family of four. It’s the main reason New Jersey has the second-worst bond rating after Illinois.

We have to face the problem head-on. We have to pay. Pensions are a contractual right and state governments — as sovereign entities with the power to tax — cannot go bankrupt. But pension systems can go bankrupt, and if they do, future taxpayers will be on the hook for $11 billion a year just to pay current benefits. 

Read the full op-ed here.