Study commission report on pension and benefits expected tomorrow

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A much-anticipated report from the commission convened by Gov. Chris Christie to study and propose solutions for funding the state’s broken pension and benefit system is expected out tomorrow, just in time for the Republican incumbent’s annual budget address for the coming fiscal year.

Sources say the report, a product of the nonpartisan panel Christie formed last year amid a search for solutions to the chronically underfunded public benefits system, will be released tomorrow morning, before Christie’s address in front of the Assembly later in the day. Among its potential findings are expected recommendations to shift the way the state manages its public worker pensions.

An earlier report by the commission found the state is currently looking at $90 billion in combined unfunded pension and retiree health benefit liabilities — nearly triple the amount of a $33 billion state budget.

The report’s release also comes as troubles surrounding the pension issue increase, following a ruling by a Superior Court judge earlier today that sided with public unions in a lawsuit requiring the state to make its promised $1.6 billion pension contribution for the current fiscal year as well as future payments. Christie cut that amount from 2014’s scheduled payment, citing a budget squeeze.

The Republican presidential hopeful’s own speech was expected to consist in large part of talk about the new report and its findings — though it’s unclear how he’ll proceed in light of the new ruling.

Study commission report on pension and benefits expected tomorrow