By Samantha Marcus, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
TRENTON — With its controversial and contested 2011 pension overhaul, New Jersey managed to break through the political friction that has kept most states from passing far-reaching retirement reforms, according to a report released Wednesday from the conservative Manhattan Institute.
All 50 states enacted pension reforms following the Great Recession, when budgets were squeezed by increased need for public services and falling tax collections, but few went as far as New Jersey, the study said.
States are estimated to be $1 trillion short of what it would cost to pay for future benefits promised to government workers. In New Jersey, the local and state unfunded liabilities reached nearly $55 billion, as of July 2014. The majority of that, about $40 billion, is state pension debt.