LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP - Gov. Chris Christie was met by hundreds of first responders unhappy with his choice of venue as he took his message of pension reform down the shore.
Police and firefighters say the site, Bayview Park on Long Beach Island, was an inappropriate choice for the event.
Christie warned of bankruptcy if New Jersey doesn't take action soon to bring its pension costs under control. He says the state has no chance to raise enough revenue to cover the costs of public employee pensions, health benefits and debt service.
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"You cannot raise taxes enough in New Jersey to pay for the pension hole that has been dug over the period of time, and the exorbitant benefits that have been promised to people over that period of time," he says.
It was a message first responders were expecting, but they say they showed up because Bayview Park contains a memorial playground, recently built by police, firefighters and teachers to honor a teacher killed in the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
The unions representing them say they have already taken on more of the pension burden, and didn't come to dispute the governor's figures.
"We take complete offense that this governor chose this venue to launch his attack, his 'No Pain, No Gain' for pension reform against the men and women who are out there every day protecting the citizens of New Jersey," says Eddie Donnelly, of the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association.
Patrick Colligan, of the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association says they wouldn't have been here today if the venue was moved. "We decided to come here just to make sure he didn't come on the playground," he says.
Christie did not step foot onto the playground.