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.

And it’s not as if New Jersey’s leaders haven’t known this was coming.

For years, public employee unions have warned politicians that they must make their required pension payments. For over a decade, the New Jersey Education Association has published annual position statements on the budget that explicitly called for fully funding pension payments. Year after year, the unions warned Trenton they must meet their obligations to public employees.

Besides warnings and position statements another thing the NJEA has been sending to people in Trenton is hundreds of millions of dollars directly or through Political Action Committees.  And where do these unions get that money? From their members in exorbitant amounts.

There was a class action employee lawsuit filed in Union County and among the exhibits was a PERS employee’s paycheck.  Out of a salary of $2,841 withholding for the pension was $208.67 (7.345%) while withholding for union dues was $49.87 (1.755%).

If New Jersey failed Mr. Weber then so has his union in subsidizing the madness instead of fighting against it.



9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by skip3house on July 31, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    About 2001, running for a NJ Legislature seat, two comments stand out from my various meetings.
    I mentioned NJ Pension promises were in trouble per late Star Ledger reporter Dunstan McNichol.reporting. A NJEA math teacher on the review committee replied ‘it is better to have a promise than nothing’.
    When I voiced concern over the increasing Property Tax burden, a leader of Hands Across NJ asked ‘why my concern as the mortgage bank pays that’?

    Seems lack of knowledge and failure of eighth grade arithmetic has put us here.
    Only now, we can’t rely on ignorance as the bills are close to being due.

    How was this possible when NJ Constitution requires a balanced budget. Better go after those who broke that law, plus the outrageous abuses we read of constantly, because I’m sure as heck not going to re-mortgage my house for past false promises..
    A raised current fair progressive NJ income tax rate might alleviate future shortages?


  2. Sell your house as we did and move on. We encourage our children NOT to buy but to rent as real estate in NJ is way too much of a liability.


  3. Posted by Eric on July 31, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Not only were warnings given as to the political choice of not funding the pension, but also a lawsuit had been filed, and the Appellate Division stated that so long as retirees are receiving pension checks there has been no breach of contract. The opinion stated that the funding or the mechanics of the funding did not involve the recipients. Now, a breach has occurred with the cancellation of the cost of living adjustments to those who have been retired prior to the law having been changed.
    I suppose that had the Appellate Division judges been on the Poseidon Adventure, they would have just closed the drapes and said what wave? Enjoy the voyage!


  4. Posted by Eric on July 31, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    For clarity for the readers, the lawsuit that I mentioned above is not the current lawsuit involving the Appellate Division regarding the cost of living adjustments.


  5. Posted by bpaterson on August 1, 2014 at 10:16 am

    eric, was that the lawsuit filed by TPAF around 12-13 years ago, I wondered what the dsposition was


  6. Posted by Anonymous on August 1, 2014 at 11:15 am

    John, any thoughts on the nj spotlight cadillac tax article?


    • None.

      I read that and first impression was that the cadillac tax won’t survive once it’s about to be implemented, like what seems like all of the ACA. Chrisite using it as a scare tactic to get something passed though not sure if having employees pay more would have any impact on the tax. They may have to decrease benefits and I don’t know enough about state health benefits to guess how they would do that.


  7. I was searching for a link to my original article when I came across this. Sorry I missed it the first time.

    I guess the author thinks it’s an “old bromide” to point out that the state has a legal obligation to pay employees what they agreed to pay them for work the employees have already done.

    And it turns out I was right: the benefits are quite modest by any reasonable standard:


    What’s really getting old is ignoring the realities of labor markets. If you want to attract a certain caliber of people to work in public service, you need to pay them. Conflating union dues and pension payments does nothing to address this.

    BTW: if you didn’t like this post, wait until you see my next piece at NJ Spotlight…

    Mark Weber


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: