Disenfranchised in 5 Minutes

The Vote By Mail (VBM) process started for me today as my ballot came in the mail (as did my daughter’s who has not lived here full-time in 10 years) and, though I intended not to vote I thought I would look through the material out of curiosity. Five minutes later I think I disqualified myself from voting.

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Covid-19 Impact on Pension Actuarial Assumptions

Perhaps we will be getting a plague component when AMT21 comes out but that is uncertain from the Issue Brief released by the American Academy of Actuaries. In fact, uncertainty is the theme of the paper which basically does not reach any conclusions though it offers some interesting insights and possibilities.

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MPRA Approval Vote Landslide

These days it would take longer to replace a Supreme Court justice.

On August 11, 2020 the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen Local No. 7 Pension Plan  got an approval letter to cut benefits pending participant approval through a voting process that involved locating participants and then sending out and tabulating ballots. Today the MPRA website posted a letter dated September 17, 2020 revealing the results of that vote. It was a landslide.

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Truth on NJ Financial State 2020

Truth in Accounting (TIA) today released its eleventh annual Financial State of the States with New Jersey still at the bottom:

New Jersey’s elected officials have made repeated financial decisions that left the state with a debt burden of $189.6 billion. That burden equates to $57,900 for every state taxpayer. New Jersey’s financial problems stem mostly from unfunded retirement obligations that have accumulated over the years. Of the $225.6 billion in retirement benefits promised, the state did not fund $95.7 billion in pension and $76.8 billion in retiree health care benefits.

New Jersey did not have enough money set aside to weather the current pandemic and fluctuations in the market. According to rough estimates by Truth in Accounting, New Jersey is projected to lose $14 billion in revenue as a result of this crisis. The uncertainty surrounding this crisis makes it impossible to determine how much will be needed to maintain government services and benefits, but New Jersey’s overall
debt will most likely increase.

It was primarily the Cheiron gimmicks that brought that liability number down from last year:

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“Incredibly Dumb” Murphy Move On Pension Payment

The New Jersey Legislature website has posted Fiscal Year End 6/30/21 budget documents including a scoresheet. For now, let’s see how good Murphy’s word is:
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According to nj.com:

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America’s Ugly Election

England, as represented by an article in The Economist this month*, is properly perturbed about our November election since:

America is unusual in the degree of power it gives to Republican and Democratic partisans to administer elections. Decisions over who is removed from lists of eligible voters when they are updated, the design of ballot papers, where polling stations are located, whether early voting is allowed and how many people have to witness a postal vote – things which in other mature democracies are in the hands of non-partisan commissions – are all taken by people with a D or an R by their name. If the election is close then all this will be litigated over, and ultimately end up in courts presided over by judges who have also been appointed by Republican or Democratic governors and presidents.

Pretty scary to an outsider but then the The Economist speculates (with my comment):

If the election is close and there are delays in counting ballots on election night, it could well appear that Mr. Trump is winning in some key states. He might then claim victory (or have Fox do it for him) before the results were in, as he did in Florida’s 2018 mid-terms.

The picture gets uglier when you look at what’s going on in New Jersey on the ground*.

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Sailor and Fiddler

After seeing Marjorie Morningstar and noting that Herman Wouk had recently died at age 104 it was a pleasant surprise to find him in fine form in his recent book of reflections.

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NJBIA on NJ Public Pensions

The New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) puts on this show:
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where this week they looked at the upcoming FY21 budget with some suggestions as to public pensions.

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Borrowing To Fund Pensions

Richard Keevey in njspotlight is against it, arguing:

Do not issue bonds to balance the New Jersey state budget. It is bad public policy and it will create much deeper budget problems in the future. And, it is not necessary.

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The state sold bonds to fund the pension system almost 24 years ago. We are still paying debt service on these bonds. In the budget for fiscal year 2020, the debt service payment is $472 million for those bonds and we have four more years to go at $507 million per year. Such actions were wrong then and they are wrong now.

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Defer $2 billion of the $4.9 billion proposed to be paid into the pension systems. This option would have little or no adverse short-term budget implication and it can be corrected in future years when the state’s economy recovers.

Two problems with that strategy:

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Actuarial Outpost Hijacked

The link to the right of this blog for Actuarial Outpost Pension Forum, from which I often get useful links on what’s going on with public pensions, has been broken for a couple of days now and apparently, according to STUMP:

People who have been reading me for a long time know that I like to keep a record on the Actuarial Outpost, but that site’s nameservers seem to have gotten hijacked by a domain-squatting operation.

I know one workaround: go directly to their IP address of 204.232.242.165. I don’t know if/when they’ll get the site’s nameserver working again and in the meantime, I may do all my article round-up here on STUMP.

This link works now but not much activity since Tuesday.