Rating agency downgrades NJ bonds

TRENTON - (AP) - New Jersey's bond rating has taken a hit. Fitch Ratings has downgraded the state's general obligationbonds to AA- from AA.

The agency also downgraded the rating on the state's open spacepreservation bonds and its appropriations-backed debt.

Fitch cites increased pressure to pay for growing unfundedpension and health benefits liabilities, especially during a weakeconomic recovery. It also cited the state's already high debtburden and a persistent structural budget deficit.

The rating agency recognizes landmark pension and healthbenefits legislation signed into law this year, but says it wasn'tenough.

The new law requires greater pension and health benefitcontributions from employees at all levels of government.

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