Murphy benefits panel calls for driving costs down

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has unveiled a slate of recommendations for dealing with the state's multi-billion-dollar public worker benefits.

The task force Murphy commissioned in July to study the state's $3.4 billion public worker benefits program unveiled an interim report on Friday.

The report recommends the benefits programs use their leverage to lower costs and improve members' health. The report also calls for including metrics for clinical quality in benefits contracts.

The state's pension and benefits cover 800,000 workers and retirees. It's perennially an issue in New Jersey because previous Democratic and Republican governors underfunded pensions and benefits.

The report contrasts with Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney's bipartisan document that sought benefits cuts.