NJ Budget Mess: Time To Hike Pensions

We are going through a bit of a kerfuffle with the PY19 budget in New Jersey:

Making it the perfect time for politicians here to squeeze out more money for themselves from the retirement system.

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NJCPA on NJTV on NJ Pensions

NJCPA held their annual convention this week and on Friday there was a Business and Economic Roundtable (2 credits) featuring:

Thomas Byrne Jr. — Chair, New Jersey State Investment Council
Jack M. Ciattarelli — Former State Assemblyman
Senator Steven V. Oroho — New Jersey Senator
Tom Bergeron — ROI-NJ
This roundtable will discuss key economic issues facing businesses and individuals in New Jersey. Find out what the public and private sectors need to do now in order to make New Jersey an attractive place to live and do business in the 21st century and beyond.

One of those key economic issues was New Jersey’s massively underfunded pension system and here is how NJTV covered it:

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We Are the Ones Paying for Union Endorsements

The New Jersey State AFL-CIO announced their 2018 endorsements for political office this week and the headline news was that there was a Republican among them. But for me it was one of 19 Democrats endorsed who sparked an interest. Linda Carter in District 22 was a Union County freeholder back on December 17, 2015 when she listened to this pitch:

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Bailout Committee Hearing Employers

The Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans (Bailout Committee) met today “to hear firsthand from several employers about the challenges they face, as well as insight into how the multiemployer pension system can be improved.” Here is the full hearing (starting at the 42 minute mark):

All bad news that most of you have heard before with these excerpts dealing with options:
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Labor’s Last Best Weapon: Lying

From the front flap of The Rise of the Working-Class Shareholder: Labor’s Last Best Weapon:

David Webber uses cases such as Safeway’s to shine a light on labor’s most potent remaining weapon: its multitrillion-dollar pension funds. Outmaneuvered at the bargaining table and under constant assault in Washington, state houses, and the courts, worker organizations are beginning to exercise muscle through markets. Shareholder activism has been used to divest from anti-labor companies, gun makers, and tobacco; diversify corporate boards; support Occupy Wall Street; force global warming onto the corporate agenda; create jobs; and challenge outlandish CEO pay. Webber argues that workers have found in labor’s capital a potent strategy against their exploiters. He explains the tactic’s surmountable difficulties even as he cautions that corporate interests are already working to deny labor’s access to this powerful and underused tool.

I can’t speak to the first seven chapters of the book but that last chapter (The Retirement “Crises” and the Future of Labor’s Capital) makes the case that the pension crisis is a fraud perpetrated on the public by “billionaire conservative activists Charles and David Koch and their organization Americans for Prosperity, as well as Enron billionaire John Arnold and his Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) and other allies [who] are determined to reform public pension funds in ways that would destroy labor’s shareholder activism.” (page 213).

To that claptrap of a chapter I can speak.

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Another MPRA Approval Vote

In April, 2017 the Alaska Ironworkers Pension Plan of Anchorage, AK filed to cut benefits under MPRA. In October, 2017 they withdrew that application. This January they refiled and on May 3, 2018 they got their approval letter. The last hurdle was getting participants to approve their own benefit reductions. The results are in and, based on the rigged system, it was a landslide. Continue reading

How Do I Tax Thee

Subtitled “A field guide to the Great American Rip-Off” by Kristin Tate the book serves as a primer on various ways governments raise money for their own benefit with several examples hitting home.

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