Gov. Phil Murphy admitted to "sticker shock" over reports health benefit costs for public employees and teachers would be going up as much as 24%, but did not say if he would move to stop those rate hikes.

Murphy was pressed by reporters at an event in Asbury Park, but was non-committal.

Saying the rate hikes were "largely formulaic," Murphy then argued the issue was not unique to New Jersey.

The governor touted what he believes are his accomplishments regarding access to healthcare, but then added, "This is yet another reminder that we have more work to do."

Details of the rate hikes began leaking out last week from the New Jersey Association of Counties. A 24% increase in health benefits for active workers and up to 15% for early retirees.

State Senate President Nick Scutari, D-Union, called on the state health benefits commission to reject the rate increases. If they do not, Scutari called on Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio to block it.

Murphy did not say if he supported Muoio taking any action.

Republicans in the legislature are also urging action to block the rate increases, but also called for a special committee investigation.

Assembly Republican Leader John DiMaio, R-Warren, wants to investigate what he calls the failures of the Murphy administration to curb rate increases.

Typically, details of any rate changes are kept secret until the benefits commission meets to approve them. That should have happened on Monday, but the vote was put off to allow time for address questions and concerns.

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