Pension Panel Parameters

Want to lose weight without diet or exercise? That pretty much leaves disease! (I think that about sums it up)

Dave Letterman

Thomas J. Healey, chair of the ‘bipartisan’ New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission,  had an op-ed piece in the Star-Ledger today in which he gave away the recommendations that his commission was obviously told NOT to make:

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Not Scaring Anybody

Nobody is any more worried now than they were before the New Jersey Pension Study Commission report came out.  Yes, “[t]his problem is dire and will only become much worse if meaningful steps are not taken quickly” but what does that really mean to anyone?

First off, the situation could become much worse even if meaningful steps are taken if those steps are stupid (i.e. arbitrarily reducing contributions that will need to be paid later or cutting COLAs that will need to be reinstated).

To understand the sad state of the New Jersey retirement system it is best to look at some numbers (those not susceptible to manipulation) from a valuation report (June 30, 2013 TPAF).

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What the Pension Panel Failed To Say

The report did a good job of piecing together available public information but anyone could have done that. What this panel of experts was supposed, and failed, to do is bring their knowledge of the truth of the situation to the general public.  Perhaps some did not possess that knowledge and others who did wimped out but here is what should have been in the report:

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Pension Panel Report Released

Late this afternoon the report came out and concluded:

This problem is dire and will only become much worse if meaningful steps are not taken quickly. (page 32)

There are useful charts and some veiled scathing criticism that is never made overt in the report so I will do it here.

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What Discourages People From Getting Involved In Public Life

Certainly what goes on in the Trenton statehouse but not when it comes to questioning the motives of opportunists who lap up that easy tax money for the price of their acquiescence to ignorant policy choices (like willfully underfunding the state pension plan and partially masking the hole by steering 38% of the investments into alternatives). For example….

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Missing Pension Commission

Tomorrow it will be thirty days since the New Jersey Pension and Benefit Study Commission last updated their one-page website that prominently includes the line:

The Commission will report its initial findings and recommendations to the Governor within thirty days.

It is now 54 days since the formation of that commission, 47 days since nine* members were announced, and  29 days since the commission chairman gave an update to the public:

“We’ve got a group of people who are very smart,” he said. “We’re balanced. The two meetings and two conference calls we’ve had so far have been enormously apolitical. Which is the goal.”

So where’s the report?  I have two modest proposals on possible reasons for the delay:

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Bribery Legal In New Jersey

Today an anti-Christie editorial board demanded that the probe into a pension hedge fund investment involving political contributions be disclosed.  What for?

This type of stuff is legal in New Jersey and it is legal in part because the mainstream media chooses to ignore the shenanigans until such time as it may support some vendetta they develop.

Here is how the pay-to-play process works for New Jersey localities:

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