New Jersey says it's not bound to make pension contributions

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Lawyers for Gov. Chris Christie and public employees' unions are squaring off in court on whether the state can be forced to make full contributions to pension funds.

A lawyer for Christie told a judge on Thursday that the state constitution is clear that state appropriations cannot be decided by courts.

Lawyers for the workers argued that a 2011 deal to increase pension funding is contractually binding for the state government.

Thursday's arguments were the latest step in a lawsuit over Christie's decision last year to cut back pension-fund payments for two years because of a surprise shortfall last year in state tax revenue.

Judge Mary Jacobson ruled last year that Christie's smaller payment last year was legally acceptable because the state had little choice to balance its budget.

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