- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie says the state government needs to reduce its rising pension and debt service costs.

He said in his State of the State speech Tuesday that the costs will rise by nearly $1 billion in the fiscal year that starts July 1 if action is not taken.

He says that’s “$1 billion we can’t spend on education.”

He did not lay out a specific plan, but the issue is likely to be a centerpiece of his budget proposal next month.

He did nix the idea of a tax increase on high-earners.

Democratic legislative leaders criticized the idea of cutting state contributions to pension funds, in the wake of a pension reform deal reached just three years ago.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says he would discuss budget proposals with Christie “when he’s ready to talk real.”

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