New Jersey’s Treasury Department announced Thursday that the state and its municipalities have a combined unfunded pension liability of $53.9 billion, an increase in 2010 of more than $8 billion.

The updated figures are from the state’s fiscal 2010 comprehensive annual financial report. New Jersey’s unfunded retirement liability is $37.1 billion while cities, towns and school districts have a combined unfunded liability of $16.8 billion.

In addition, the unfunded other-post employment benefit obligations of the state and its local governments is now $66.8 billion, up from $56.7 billion, as of June 30, 2009.

Gov. Chris Christie in mid-September proposed several retirement and health care benefit reforms to help the state rein in employee costs. They include rolling back a 9% pension benefit increase, boosting the retirement age for state employees to 65 from 55, increasing employee contribution rates to a uniform 8.5%, and ending automatic cost-of-living increases for retirees.

“Unchecked, the cost of this impossible burden will fall not just on the taxpayers of today, but on future generations of New Jerseyans,” Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said in a statement. “It’s crucial that we act now to protect public-worker pensions and retirement benefits as well as the state’s ability to fund critical services. Immediate reform is needed to restrain exponential cost increases and provide long-term stability to the system.”

New Jersey’s outstanding bonded debt also increased. The state now has $32.84 billion of outstanding general obligation and appropriation debt, a $1.25 billion increase from the year before.

Moody’s Investors Service rates New Jersey Aa2. Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings rate the state AA.

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