US - New Jersey's pension fund has gained 8.7% so far this fiscal year as Governor Chris Christie calls on lawmakers help whittle down a $53.9bn deficit.
The fund for retired teachers and government workers had $70.03bn in assets as of November, as performance since the July 1 start of the fiscal year beat a gain of 8.53% for its benchmark, according to a report presented to the State Investment Council today in Trenton. Robert Grady, chairman of the panel, said the fund returned 13.4% in the prior fiscal year, which ended June 30.
Republican Christie has proposed rolling back a 9% pension-benefits increase enacted in 2001, raising the retirement age and suspending cost-of-living adjustments to narrow the funding gap. The governor said he intends to restart payments into the system this year with a partial contribution of $512m if lawmakers act on his plan.
"Unless there are unprecedented returns over many years, there will certainly not be a significant dent made in that unfunded liability," said Andy Pratt, a spokesman for treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff. "Investment skills alone aren't going to dig us out of this hole."
New Jersey's fund had assets to cover 62 % of its obligations as of June 30, down from 66% a year earlier, according to Treasury Department data. The value of the fund was $71bn as of October 31.
The state's pension deficit increased 18% to $53.9bn as of June 30 as the state failed to make contributions for most of the past decade. The state also faces an unfunded liability of $66.8bn for retiree health-care costs, the treasury department said last month in a statement.
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