Gov. Chris Christie has kicked off the first in a series of planned "No Pain, No Gain" mini-town hall meetings, designed to build support for his call to lower public worker pension and benefit costs.

Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a town hall meeting in LBI (David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ)

Christie told a crowd under a gazebo on Long Beach Island Tuesday that without significant cost reductions, the state will go bankrupt.

He said a bunch of different options are being reviewed right now, and he'll probably be ready to roll out his proposal by late next August.

When asked what he had in mind, Christie said there's not a lot of choices left "except to look at a whole different variety of ways to reduce benefits or to increase contributions from employees or to further lengthen retirement age. There's a whole bunch of different ways to look at this, but in the end, the bottom line is it'll be a reduction of benefits, it has to be, there's no other way to do this."

The governor said state officials will have to step up to the plate "and show that they're willing to deal with these issues in a really direct way."

Christie also said he's considering all options.

Protestors at Christie's recent town hall in LBI speak out against seismic ocean blasting. (David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ)

"And then we'll come out with a proposal. I was hoping by the middle of the summer, but it's probably going to be the end of the summer now. As I'm looking at them now, it's pretty complicated and I want to make sure I completely understand all of it."

The governor said one certainty is that "no matter what I propose, it will be roundly criticized, because it won't be easy. It'll be hard and it will hurt, so everyone will not like it, but I will guarantee you that if we do it, it will work. But then the question will be, is the political will there to actually get it done or not?"

The governor said hopefully state lawmakers will take action.

"I've invited the Legislature to come forward with their own plan," Christie said, "and the crickets are still being heard from down the hallway about their own plan."