Archive for the ‘New Jersesy Pension’ Category

Who To Believe

Panels of experts or letter writers and anonymous commenters?

On August 7, 2014 Paul Mulshine of the Star Ledger wrote a confusing piece on the New Jersey pension mess that overstated the roles of the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) to which I commented and got a response.

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Doublie-Dipping Deception

David Jones is a retiree under the State Police Retirement System (SPRS) getting $90,650 annually.  He is also running for Mercer County sheriff and Bil Schluter, who appears to be his campaign director, editorializes today that David Jones…

“has taken a stand of courage and self-sacrifice by opposing the double-dipping practice of collecting a state pension while also receiving a salary for service in another public office: He has said he will forego* his pension if elected sheriff.

Though Mr. Schulter later admits:

“Some might say that the pension savings of one sheriff and several undersheriffs are small when compared to all the pension extravagances taking place in New Jersey. But isn’t it because of the multiplicity of pension excesses that the unfunded liability of state pensions has grown to the point where sustainability of the system is in jeopardy?”

No! Not at all!  It is a combination of a lack of independent oversight allowing everyone to supposedly get whatever they want and a general innumeracy (sometimes legitimate and sometimes feigned for convenience) among stakeholders that has doomed the New Jersey state pension system.  Double-dipping is not the problem and in many cases is a cost container.

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You Disgust Me!

There have been more memorable rope line encounters with politicians but what happened at Governor Christie’s town hall meeting last Thursday in Ocean City should have at least gotten a higher footing in the media blabosphere above an insert on an NJTV story:

No word on whether this fellow was a disgusted Atlantic City employee or a public sector retiree or maybe even a good-government advocate but Chrisite admitted there were other incidents that day that didn’t even make NJTV:

Again, no explanation (or consideration) of why these people were disgusted.  Just a dismissal of them as malcontents that the governor is stoically tolerating.  I don’t know what the real concerns of these people are (and that’s not the story being told by those media folk) but the comments that Chrisite made at that Ocean City town hall meeting were disgusting and for these reasons:

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Christie’s Incongruity

One of the problems with lying is that you pretty much have to stick to that lie even when it would be more convenient in another circumstance had you not lied.

So it is with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie claiming that he is making the “pension payment that takes care of all of the current employees”.

That pension payment comes to $681 million this year based on the July 1, 2013 valuation of the plans but if you look at the profile of those current employees that Christie claims to be covering:

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Why a Pension Study Commission?

Mark J. Magyar at NJSpotlight reports today:

Christie has been promising a plan to cut the state’s growing $90 billion unfunded liability for future pension and retiree health benefit costs for months, going all the way back to his February 25 budget address.


Christie promised to unveil that plan by the end of this month and, indeed, Republicans who met with Christie administration officials told NJ Spotlight that the plan was almost finished and would be unveiled either in late August or early September.

“Obviously, whatever plan Treasury came up with didn’t meet the governor’s political needs,” said one Republican who asked not to be identified. “That’s when he decided to go to a commission.

“This issue is more difficult and complex than I expected it would be,” Christie said in Parsippany on August 2 after signing the executive order creating the commission. “I came to the conclusion that I wanted outside help to come and give me some advice before I made a proposal. It’s no more complicated than that.”

Actually it’s a whole lot less complicated than even that.

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Job #1 of the New Jersey Pension Study Committee

Bottom line: lower the state’s required contributions.

How they get there is irrelevant.  New Jersey is budgeted to make a contribution of $681 million in June, 2015.  That number needs to get as close to $0 as possible.

The bad news for the committee is that it is impossible using any rational criteria.  The good news for the committee is that they have wide latitude as to means and their intended audiences are, on the whole, innumerate so any number they throw out there that is lower than $681 million will be accepted mindlessly.

But when one actually looks at the numbers without blinders the real extent of the problem (and the machinations to avoid such analysis) should scare us all.  For example, Governor Chrisite claimed last month*:

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Pension Study Commission Members Announced

I predicted they would be a combination of five patsies and quislings but apparently Governor Christie could not fill out that roster so he settled on some professional people but raised the number to nine so as to assure that his original intention (having this commission rubber-stamp whatever study the Divisions of Pensions is almost done with) will play out though not through blind obeisance as originally intended but through internal bickering which this commission is certain to have plenty of.  The members, per the press release:

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Thinking Big; Acting Small

Chris Christie needs a study commission to be able to reduce pension and health benefits for New Jersey public employees because he does not want to be the fall guy for what he has already decided to do.

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Emphasis on the ‘We’ Not the ‘It’

When Governor Christie claims “We can’t afford it” (with ‘we’ being New Jersey government and ‘it’ being public employee pensions) public employees like teacher Mark Weber in a NJSpotlight piece today latch onto the ‘it’ part and trot out the old bromides:

  • it’s not really that much
  • we earned it
  • the state should have seen this coming
  • there are ways to come up with the money

while completely ignoring the sad state of the guarantor of his pension – the New Jersey political spoils system masquerading as government.

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New Jersey Petitioning Against COLAs – Highlights

New Jersey filed its cross-petition in the Berg v. Christie COLA case yesterday kicking off with:

Applying the wrong legal standard, the Appellate Division determined that NJSA 43:3C-9.5 creates a contractual right to cost-of-living adjustments. This determination upends the Legislature’s carefully crafted pension reform, threatens the fiscal integrity of the pension systems for active employees, and potentially puts a critical strain on State resources that already face many worthwhile, competing demands. (Preliminary Statement – page 1)

It gets funnier.

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