As of 2009, 19 states have set aside no funds for future medical costs, while the others have mostly tucked away a small fraction of what they owe retirees, according to the study.
Gov. Chris Christie and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) are working on changes to the public-employee medical system that would push some of costs to current workers and future retirees in the form of increased contributions. But neither have proposed establishing a pension-style fund.
Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts yesterday said the governor is not currently considering a pension-style plan for health benefits. “Our focus is on getting the Legislature to enact our reform plan to ease the unsustainable burden it places on taxpayers, who on average fund 92 percent of the cost of public employee health benefits in the state,” he said.
With enough in the bank to cover 66 percent of what’s owed in benefits, New Jersey’s pension system is also among the most poorly funded in the nation, according the study.
Based on the percentage funding, New Jersey has the 12th poorest pension plan in the country, according to the study. The state had the seventh poorest pension plan when Pew released a similar report last year.
Many states, including New Jersey, have skipped or reduced pension contributions so they could divert money to other areas. Overall, states were supposed to contribute $115 billion to their pensions, but only kicked up $73 billion in 2009, the study shows.