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Christie Calls For Changes To State Pensions, Wants Realty Transfer Fees Tossed

Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a Town Hall Meeting  (file/credit: Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a Town Hall Meeting (file/credit: Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

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SOMERSET, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP)Gov. Chris Christie‘s town hall meeting in Somerset on Tuesday focused on the state budget.

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, New Jersey’s 2016 budget will be historic and not in a good way.

“We’ll be paying more for people who are doing nothing than for people who are doing something,” Christie said.

The governor said health benefits for retired state workers will cost more than for current state employees. He said health and pension costs need to be contained.

Christie renewed a pledge to propose further changes to public workers’ pensions, without saying what his plan would entail.

He told town hall attendees that he would “force the conversation” about reducing the state’s long-term debt by further trimming retiree costs.

The governor signed a pension overhaul bill into law early in his first term that passed more pension and health care costs onto public employees.

Public worker unions bitterly opposed the changes.

Now, Christie says those reforms weren’t enough.

Democrats who lead the Legislature said the changes already enacted have put the state on a path to fiscal health.

Two citizens’ groups protested the governor’s tax and spending priorities outside the town hall.

At the town hall, Christie also railed against the realty transfer tax.

“Yeah, it’s a grab by the government to take some of your money for no good reason,” the governor said.

Christie said he would do away with the fee – a major source of tax revenues – if the Legislature sent him a bill.

He told the crowd the fee the state assesses to homeowners after they sell a house is “awful” and should be scrapped.

He was responding to a question by a retired state trooper who said he owed $5,400 after selling a home.

The state has projected realty transfer fees to produce $287 million in the current budget and $325 million in next year’s budget.

Realty transfer fees are the seventh largest source of tax revenue, but a small portion of the proposed $34.4 billion budget.

Christie did not say how the revenue would be made up.

About a third of those at the town hall were students. No hot-button issues were raised, Haskell reported.

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