Pensions drag down state economy: expert

TRENTON – Kim Rueben of the Urban Institute said she would have preferred the state made the $3 billion pension payment, given the excessive amount of the debt the state has in that fund – and called for a millionaire’s tax.

Regarding the pension crisis, “There is a $30 billion liability that has got to be dealt with,” she said, calling for local governments to consolidate or work together on the issue.

She, along with another speaker at the Garden State Economic Forum, Loretta Mester, called for more investment in education to have a stable work force in science, finance, and health fields that dominate the state’s economy.

Rueben’s other prescriptions include raising the gas tax, reducing property taxes, and raising other revenue enhancements.

She added that raising the retirement age for eligibility for entitlement programs could be likely at the federal government level.

Rueben’s ideals are unlikely to be implemented anytime soon. Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the millionaire’s tax and has voiced opposition to any tax hike, including the gas tax. He skipped the pension payment in his first year in office and is now following a bipartisan plan to increase the state payments by one-seventh per year going forward.

Pensions drag down state economy: expert