Why Is New Jersey Arguing?

Reading through New Jersey’s latest brief in the pension payment case brought to mind:
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From page 1:

“The Constitution makes no provision for judicial participation in the annual budget process, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly warned that that (sic) the Judiciary lacks power to direct the Legislature to make an appropriation or the Governor to recommend or approve one.”

and later on pages 5-6:

“The trial court found that Chapter 78, a mere statute, creaes a valid, immutable, constitutionally-protected contractual right.”

and later on page 11:

“The Governor had his objectively supportable reasons, and the Legislature undoubtedly had theirs.  The point is not that one side is right and the other wrong, but that both sides exercised the fiscal discretion and authority that the Constitution vests in them.  The constitutionally-designed fiscal process worked as planned.”

So if the judicial branch has no role in anything regarding the budget process then why is the state arguing before them?

Full Monty Python sketch:
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35 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on April 3, 2015 at 10:23 am

    Fair enough, P.L. in contradiction with constitution, the later prevails BUT the law is invalid because its foundational basis is illegal and needs to be in agreement with the constitution. So retroactively pay COLA suspended, refund health care premiums deducted, etc.and all parties need to sit down again to get it right!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Anonymous on April 3, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Bottom line no amount of reforms w/o proper funding will ever resolve this issue, the ARC component of P.L.2011, c.78 was critical in gaining much neefed Democratic support to pass this bill. In contract law I think they call it “Theft by Deception” but guess that doesn’t apply to politicians!

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on April 3, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      Quoting “Bottom line no amount of reforms w/o proper funding will ever resolve this issue”

      Correct, and if all stakeholders would finally RECOGNIZE that “funding” (i.e., the ARC calculation) is a function of Plan “generosity”, and that current Plan “generosity” must be reduced to a level that is necessary, just, fair, and AFFORDABLE (without untenable tax increases or further service reductions) … and therefore CAN be fully funded annually …. the problem would indeed be solved.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Anonymous on April 3, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Curious, what’s your take on court mandated Abbott districts spending of State $ as it relates to your above conclusion as it relates to the ARC component of P.L.2011, c.78?

    Reply

    • Don’t know much about the Abbott decision except the general impression that it required the state to use income tax money to pick up a lot of the school costs for about 30 cities which allowed them to spend wildly. I suppose those Abbott districts could sue to get the state to make the payments but it seems pointless since even if the state made the payments it would only be a portion (4/7th or 5/7th of the ARC) so benefits they would still not be funding all the benefits.

      Reply

      • Posted by Anonymous on April 3, 2015 at 1:23 pm

        The point is why wouldn’t the State take Abbott funding to the Supreme Court based on their assertion and your conclusion that NJ’s constitution precludes the court’s involvement with the Budget process? Appreciate your insights!

        Reply

        • It’s not my conclusion. My conclusion is that the state is making stuff up since they refuse to take common sense measures to cut spending (ie. eliminate county government) and don’t have the money to fund the pensions.

          I see the courts as arbiters of the meaning of both the constitution and statutes so Ch. 78 is within their purview but that law is so obvious that the state can only argue that courts can’t interpret laws having to do with the budget process unless it is in the constitution. This also ties in to their need to get a change in the part of the constitution put in when Whitman wanted to stop making payments that guaranteed pension benefits under the guise of clarifying that the courts DO have jurisdiction when all the state wants out of that constitutional amendment is to get the right to cut pensions as they now can do with health benefits.

          Reply

          • Posted by Anonymous on April 3, 2015 at 2:08 pm

            Sorry it seemed like a conclusion to me but anyway the constitution now stands as pensions but not health benefits are an unforfietable right so by defacto the courts could stretch their authority to ensure that right is met. The way this has played out I don’t see either side coming together on much needed additional reforms due to the distrust. I’m a realist and understand the importance of compromise but the unfunded liability can’t be balanced with cuts and must include additional dedicated revenue w/o forgoing the exsisting unforfietable pension rights. I’ve previously outlined some common sense suggestions on this subject and appreciate your feedback. Thanks for the communication platform!

            Political grandstanding aside the situation is not as dire as presented for the following reasons:

            1. GASB requires the unfunded liability be amortized over 30 years but hypothetically why not 40 years? Some homeowners are permitted to take out 40 year mortgage.

            2. Assuming 1. above, anticipated unfunded pension & benefit unfunded liability @6/30/15 is ~$90B SLM amortization of $2.25B@40yrs=$90B, eliminate SAVER ~$1.1B proposed FY16 plus the budgeted ARC payment and the short term budget crisis is resolved.

            3. TTFA funding, some will dislike this but, millionaires tax to leverage TTFA’s financing ability to create jobs, improve infrastructure, and eventually rev up the economy – even the Gov s/b able to swallow this bitter pill IF he has all of NJ’s best interest at hand.

            4. Medicare retirees health care costs not the issue as State’s coverage is secondary so implement a sliding scale premium share for so called “early” retirees only.

            5. Analyze the feasibility of reimplementing COLA by including “drop down” menu option selections whereby the retirees base allowance would be reduced based on the option selected and beneficary’s age, if applicable.

            6. Analyze potential savings of tweaking retirement age and service eligibility, compared to a DCP for new or non vested workers – this s/b the most heated of all the suggestions, except for a Rep Gov and Presidential hopeful to raise taxes, even though it’s on the wealthiest a minority for the benefit of NJ’s majority.

            7. Must have a dedicated revenue stream to keep this issue out of the political arena and ensure the State’s willingness and ability to fund the ARC going forward.

            8. New Jersey needs certainty for economic growth, legislators and the Governor need to amend P.L.2011 c.78 incorporating the above suggestions and requesting AG opinion prior to enactment to minimize legal challenges going forward.

            We can choose the road of deviseness, which keeps us stuck in our own worlds, or we can choose to come together and give a little to get a lot, a better NJ!

          • The unfunded liability can certainly be eliminated with cuts alone. The tricky part is those cuts would be 50% of benefits currently being received by retirees and 100% for everybody else.
            As for the other points:

            1. GASB no longer has funding rules. They have reporting rules based on more honest assumptions but punted on funding methods, presumably on the assumption that once everyone sees the real liabilities then something will be done.

            2. Your suggestions might possibly work with a $37 billion problem (though probably not) but they have no chance against a $250 billion shortfall. There is $10 billion being paid out annually now and as more public employees flee (their jobs if not the state) that could easily be $15 billion in 5 years, especially if COLAs get decisioned back. Going forward if the DB plan is frozen then the $2 billion the employees donate will no longer be funding those payouts and the only input the trust will have is the $2 billion that the municipalities pay and whatever the state decides to chip in.

          • Posted by Tough Love on April 3, 2015 at 2:52 pm

            Quoting ….”My conclusion is that the state is making stuff up since they refuse to take common sense measures to cut spending (ie. eliminate county government) and don’t have the money to fund the pensions.”

            OR ….. that the State (i.e., our In-the-Union’s-Pocket Elected Officials) refuses to reduce the pensions to a level EQUAL to (but not greater) than those typically granted Private Sector workers …. which WOULD be affordable on a going-forward basis.

  4. Posted by Anonymous on April 3, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    follow the conversation on twitter @SaveNJPensions

    Reply

  5. Posted by Anonymous on April 3, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    FYI, here’s s source article – certainly not the only one & I don’t know if more recent rulings/decisions trump it. http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/13/0710/1649/

    Reply

  6. Posted by bpaterson on April 3, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    interesting that one post from an anonymous person noted the abbot district. As I’ve left posts before on JB1’s pension blog, the abbot districts funding should be considered as the single major contributing factor to the pension underfunding. The years that the abbot funding ramped up into those districts to supposedly make parity to the wealthy districts is the same time frame that the funding of the pension slowed and stopped. it was simply billions of dollars being transferred instead of higher taxes to cover.

    In essence, it is the 28 abbott school districts that are the ones that took the pension money. However we see it, with or without any educational strides or results, the money is gone. Can we retrieve it in any way? of course not, the abbot districts in all these 25 years still have not turned around to be economic and educational contributors toward our society (except maybe Hoboken). The anticipated double huge vacuum of abbott and pension funding, thanks to the politicians for the last 25 years, was really only a single vacuum suction to our pockets. Yet NJ still has the highest taxes on its residents in the nation. The public was fleeced, the public sector employees were fleeced too. We are both victims and to me, one victim has no obligations to make the other victim whole. If the public sector really has any recourse, what is left to cover claims is the wealthy of the state (who basically does not use public services and already pays big for them anyway with the regressive tax structure) or selling of states assets, which are public assets and just cannot be easily done. The middle class taxes are out as already noted above and the poor are still poor and cannot be drawn on. Instead of the funding, maybe addressing the obligation end of it is best which is presently being looked at already. But for all the capping and cleaning out how much will be internally retrieved to cover the balance.

    Does anyone see a solution, because all I see is a “sorry you got burnt, its not the taxpayers fault, we will do the best we can for a horrible situation created by 25 years of the huge mess.” The politicians probably recognized this all this time, but no one cared and many kept voting the system to continue. maybe they are the ones that are to blame whoever “they” are, but that faction will be tough to isolate for remuneration probably. As in any negotiations, a lose-lose situation is the same as a win-win but without any smiles.

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on April 3, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      Regardless of where the primary “blame” lies (with our Elected Officials being my choice … for agreeing to the Public Sector Union’s grossly excessive pension/benefit demands in exchange for campaign contributions and election support), it’s CLEARLY the Public Sector WORKERS who are the financial beneficiaries of this Collusion between their Unions and our Elected Officials.

      Hence THAT is rightfully where the taxpayers must look to right this wrong …… by VERY materially reducing these pension/benefit “promises”, which were never anything but a theft of Private Sector Taxpayer wealth.
      —————————————————————————————–
      Greed HAS consequences.

      Reply

    • Posted by Anonymous on April 3, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Maybe but any workable solution revolves around reasonable compromise not putting all of the burden on PW or Taxpayers but a “shared” sacrifice – isn’t that the essence of compromise. Hard to know the real numbers as both sides are skewing to support their position. This is why my suggestions are workable if viewed with a fresh unbias perspective. I viewed an online source that quoted the anticipated unfunded pension & benefit liability @6/30/15 s/b ~$90B (if that’s inaccurate then my illustraion is flawed), excluding COLA. Freezes the current plan so the pension unfunded liability s/b a known quantity going forward, that amount can be easily funded over 40 years (especially based on the fact GASB doesn’t appear to specify otherwise) within the current budget structure by combining the proposed budgeted ARC with the $1.1B savings from eliminating SAVER, which by the way was started in a year when GIT collections were flush and was intended as a one time rebate but as usually the politicians mucked it up and turned into a form of entitlement program (I know some will disagree, just my observation based on the facts known to me). The reason I suggested reimplementing the COLA, paid for by the retiree based on an actuarial reduced base allowance, is to possibly satisfy the pending litigation on this matter. Up to the retiree, keep higher benefit with no COLA, or take reduced benefit with lifetime COLA. The State is a bulk purchaser of health insurance and is self insured for their largest provide NJDirect administered by Horizon Blue, implement a sliding scale premium share for non medicare retirees, the so called “early retirees” as, based on the Administration’s illustration, this group while significantly smaller costs the State more than the larger Medicare eligible retirees because of course for them Medicare is primary. The State’s premium coverage costs s/b renegotiated and bid out to a single payer national carrier to maximize economies of scale and keep costs down. Anyway there’s no silver bullet, unless you consider bankruptcy which sounds good but comes with its own problems and restrictions with an uncertain negative economic impact. There you have it, fire away but not with BS which solves nothing, how about some constructive suggestions leading to workable solutions. BTW, I previously threw in an unrelated but important topic TTFA which I’m suggestion s/b funded with a dedicated “millionaire’s” tax, good for jobs, infrastructure, and eventually the whole economy. Probably some typos along the way, working on my phone.

      Reply

  7. Posted by Anonymous on April 3, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    Interesting how the clearly unbiased moderator’s observation that the underfunding issue can be resolved solely on the backs of retirees by cutting their benefits in half is well revolutionary. Quite frankly why stop with NJ, let’s do the same thing at the Federal level, including members of our Armed Forces, and let’s not forget those old people bringing our country down collecting their SS checks – cut all their benefits in half. Then this country will experience the social upheaval the we watched unfold around the world during the Great Recession. Oh I forgot, don’t have kids so why should I be paying school tax, the list goes on but then you’ll know that. Good bye, good nights, and don’t let the social revolution bite!

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on April 3, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      The pensions & benefits of Public Sector State & Local workers are a MUCH more justifiable target because of the huge “advantage” they have successfully gained by BUYING (with campaign contributions and election support) the favorable votes of those (our Elected officials) that decide on such pensions & benefits. In any other venue, this COLLUSION between the Public Sector unions and our Elected Officials would be considered criminal racketeering.

      The abuse and it’s cause is so great and clear, that it screams to be “fixed”.

      Not so (not even CLOSE) with the other groups that you mentioned.

      Reply

  8. Posted by Eric on April 4, 2015 at 8:39 am

    John:
    When people were discussing an $80 billion “problem”, you used the figure $150 billion. That is the largest number I remember your reporting. Now you added another $100 billion amount to the $150 billion number arriving at $250 billion.
    I am confused. Are you still discussing strictly pension numbers, and If so, why did you recently, within days, add another $100 billion?
    Thanks,
    Eric

    Reply

    • A lot of factors make the real number confusing. There is the state and local part. There is the issue of COLAs included or not. There are the alternative investments that could blow up leaving a $25 billion hole. There are the employees’ own contributions. Worst case scenario – it’s $250 billion underfunding.

      Reply

      • Posted by Anonymous on April 4, 2015 at 1:23 pm

        Yeah the $25B alternative investments that could blow up, NJ paid ~$600M in investment fees the ROI should be golden!

        Reply

      • Posted by Anonymous on April 4, 2015 at 1:27 pm

        Exactly,the numbers are all over the place based on which side is trying to prove their case. This is why an unbiased, no political or union motivated, actuarial assumptio n done so everyone has a better idea what the reality of the situation is.

        Reply

        • Posted by Tough Love on April 4, 2015 at 11:00 pm

          That’s what the NJ Pension Commission was charged with doing. And after their analysis, they judge the shortfall SO GREAT, and the amount of revenue needed (to “fix” t) so impossibly large, that they recommended that the current DB Plans be frozen for ALL NJ Public Sector workers.

          Doing so JUST stops digging this HUGE financial hole we are in even deeper. To fill that hole (the UAAL for PAST service accruals) they proposed very material reductions in active and retiree healthcare subsidies (bringing these healthcare plans more in line with what Private Sector workers typically get) and using the savings to help fund the pension UAAL.

          Reply

  9. Posted by BH on April 4, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    No such thing as unbiased. Not in this realm anyway……

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on April 4, 2015 at 11:13 pm

      Who would you think has greater incentive for bias …… and to deceive, misinform, omit material facts, and outright lie:

      (a) The Public Sector workers, wherein new full career retirees collect an annual $50-$60K average starting pension, or
      (b) the 4 to 6 times as many Private Sector taxpayers unjustly being called upon (if they REALLY had to pay for it) to pony up an unjust $3-$5K annually.

      I would guess (a).

      Reply

      • Posted by BH on April 5, 2015 at 3:36 pm

        You fail to point blame anywhere else but at the public workers. Why don’t you point your jealous finger at Wall Street excesses or corporate greed? Everyone got screwed during the financial crisis. Not just you. You don’t think the public sector got beat as well? They got their wages cut, furloughs, hiring freezes or layoffs, slashed pensions and benefits…

        It still baffles me why you are not pushing for all Americans to have the ability to retire with a pension. But we will get back to that.

        I wonder why you think it’s us, the citizens who are paying solely for these public pensions. Aren’t they relying on market gains to shore up the funds? What about their own contributions? Isn’t that a part? A recent Pew reports suggested,” Public employees themselves contribute an average of 40 percent of non-investment contributions to their own retirement.”

        An independent study conducted by the National Institute on Retirement Security makes the following statements-

        *Wages and salaries of state and local employees are lower than those for private sector workers with comparable earnings determinants (e.g., education). State employees typically earn 11 percent less; local workers earn 12 percent less.

        *Over the last 20 years, the earnings for state and local employees have generally declined relative to comparable private sector employees.

        *State and local employees have lower total compensation than their private sector counterparts. On average, total compensation is 6.8 percent lower for state employees and 7.4 percent lower for local workers, compared with comparable private sector employees.

        Read the rest below-

        http://www.nirsonline.org/storage/nirs/documents/final_out_of_balance_report_april_2010.pdf

        CONTRARY TO WHAT YOU ALWAYS SAY……..the report goes on to state…

        “This recession calls for equal sacrifice, but long- term patterns indicate that the average compensation of state and local employees is not excessive. Indeed, if the goal is to compensate public and private workforces in a comparable manner, then the data do not call for reductions in average state and local wages
        and benefits.”

        My research contradicts your repetitive copy paste paragraph And I say again……. Now what??

        BH

        Reply

        • Posted by S Moderation Douglas on April 5, 2015 at 6:57 pm

          BH

          Good luck. I have linked the same report several times. The usual response is that NIRS is a liberal shill of the Powerful Public Employee Unions.

          This report *should* answer that old internet myth that “In the 80’s, public worker pay was much lower than the private sector, so the pensions were justified, but now public workers earn more.

          The charts in the NIRS study show that the difference in pay has always been in flux, but consistently lower than the private sector.

          Even the latest available studies, e.g. American Enterprise Institute, is based on data from 2009 through 2012. A lot has changed since then. I still highly recommend reading that study. Hopefully, a logical person would come to the conclusion that the “average” is virtually meaningless.

          Reply

        • Posted by S Moderation Douglas on April 6, 2015 at 2:09 am

          BH

          For reference, the study TL cites (AEI) is very similar in many ways to the study you linked. The big difference between his and all the other major studies is the discount rate used to value pension liabilities. Most other studies say public employees are “roughly equal” or earn less than the private sector. AEI uses a risk a so called free rate.

          For background on the use of MVL vs AAL, read this short paper, then make up your own mind.

          https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/-understanding-the-valuation-of-public-pension-liabilities-expected-cost-versus-market-price_144422774379.pdf

          Conclusion:

          “Liability measurements must be useful and relevant to
          inform stakeholders. The AAL imparts information
          about the issues that are most important to decision
          makers: the expected costs associated with funding
          promised benefits. The MVL measures are far less useful
          for public-sector plans because they are not
          designed to answer the critical questions facing policymakers,
          employers, and trustees related to the
          expected cost of current and future benefit obligations.”

          I say the AEI paper has some very interesting points, but take the “23% public sector advantage” with a very large grain of NaCl.

          Reply

  10. Posted by Eric on April 5, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    BH:
    With the exception of Lehman Brothers, Wall Street got bailed out dollar for dollar. Wall Street and Washington are one in the same. AIG was bailed out completely to protect the interests of Goldman Sachs. The big banks are not too big to fail. They are criminal enterprises that have been the recipient of Ben Bernanke’s money drop.
    As Michael Hudson often said , Ben Bernanke’s helicopter (dropping money) only flies over Wall Street not Main Street.
    All of the Wall Street firms should have been forced to file for bankruptcy. George W. Bush did not know any better than to accept the unnamed Treasury Secretary’s representations.
    Eric

    Reply

  11. Posted by Tough Love on April 5, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    BH , Addressing your point ….

    (1) While Corporate “greed” also needs fixing, it does not negate nor lessen the extreme greed of Public Sector Unions/workers …….. two “wrongs” do not make one “right”. And, the misdeeds of Corporations mostly impact their shareholders, while the greed of Public Sector Unions/workers directly impacts the Taxpayers.

    (2) Yes, the Public Sector as well as the Private Sector suffered in the recent great depressions, but where you say that the Public Sector suffered … “slashed pensions and benefits…”, that’s baloney. While there have been SOME pension reforms (almost all VERY minor) almost none of those reforms have impacted the Future service of CURRENT workers, and without doing THAT, the savings is near-NOTHING for the next 20-30 years until these new workers begin to retire. In NJ the ONLY reform-to-date that has any material financial impact is the COLA suspension, and it looks like that will be reversed by the Union’s Court challenge. To effect the material savings that are needed, pension/benefit reform MUST include the Future service of all CURRENT workers. And this is not just ME simply saying that. The NJ pension Commission came to the SAME conclusion, concluding that the situation in NJ is so dire, that the current DB Plans should be frozen and healthcare subsidies materially reduced to help pay for the huge UAAL associated with PAST service pension accruals.

    (3) Quoting … “It still baffles me why you are not pushing for all Americans to have the ability to retire with a pension.”

    That would indeed be wonderful, although an easy financial workup would show that giving everyone the same level of pensions/benefits routinely promised the 15%-20% of all workers that work in the Public Sector, would overwhelm the US economy … being unquestionable unaffordable. Which of course raises the valid quest …. they why are PUBLIC Sector workers routinely promised such rich pensions and generous benefits?

    How did Public Sector Pension Plans grow to become so generous ? Did it NOT arise from the Public Sector Unions BUYING of the favorable votes (on Public Sector pay, pensions, and benefits) of our Elected Officials with campaign contribution and election support ? In any OTHER venue, this would be considered criminal racketeering. There is no justification for Private Sector Taxpayers to honor the 50+% share of such grossly excessive pension “promises” (obtained as a result of the COLLUSION between the Public Sector Unions and our Elected Officials) that assuredly would NOT have been granted in the absence of that collusion.

    (4) In your 3-rd paragraph you take the position that investment earnings pay for a large share of Public Sector pensions. I suggest that you ask the most respected financial economics University professor that you can find if that’s really true.

    There are ONLY 2 “REAL”sources of payment for pension/benefit promises, the workers and the taxpayers. While pre-funding has merits with respect to generational fairness (i.e., services should be paid for by those who use them, NOT future generations) investment earnings ARISE FROM and FOLLOW the actual $ contributions from the employees and the Taxpayers, without which there would be no investment income. The following demonstrates why calling investment earning a 3-rd “source” of funding, is false:

    Suppose the promised pensions will cost one single payment (from Taxpayers) of $10 Million 20 years in the future to purchase a group annuity covering all pension obligations. The workers could care less HOW it gets paid (e.g., funded annually, or not pre-funded at all), as long as it DOES get paid. Now if the taxpayers chose not to pre-fund, and cut-a-check and paid the full $10 Million in one payment in 20 years, would anyone disagree that the Taxpayers in fact paid the full $10 Million ? I don’t think so.

    How about if the taxpayer (as a group) set up a tax-qualified account (in their own names, not that of any gov;t entity) and BOUGHT a zero coupon bond with a 5% interest rate) for $3,768,894.83 up-front, and at the end of the 20-th year when the bond matures for $10 million, they withdraw the money that has been in their names and BELONGS TO THEM, and buy that annuity for $10 Million? Would anyone disagree that the Taxpayers in fact paid the full $10 Million here as well? I don’t think so.

    Now how about if they (again via an account in their OWN NAMES) ANNUALLY contribute $288,024.64 to an account (again earning 5% interest). As in the prior paragraph, this too will accumulate to $10 Million at the end of the 20-th year from which they could cut-a-check and buy that annuity to provide the pension coverage. Would anyone disagree that the Taxpayers in fact paid the full $10 Million here as well? I don’t think so.

    The last paragraph is IDENTICAL to standard pension pre-funding (although the gov’t entity would assume they could earn a considerably higher rate). It’s ALL the Taxpayer’s money, whether it’s pre funded or not, as GOV’T pre-funding simply takes away FROM THE TAXPAYERS the earnings that would otherwise have stayed in THEIR pockets ….. perhaps to help fund their much smaller retirements.

    (5) Then you go on to try to imply that via lower “wages”, Public Sector workers are compensated (via all sources …. presumably, wages, pensions, and benefits) LESS that their Private Sector counterparts …. and you included a link to a study dated April 2010 (with compensation data likely from 2008 and earlier years).

    The study from which some of your figures are coming from is THIS one:

    http://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/-biggs-overpaid-or-underpaid-a-statebystate-ranking-of-public-employee-compensation_112536583046.pdf

    Mr. Bury Blog focuses on NEW JERSEY pensions. From Figure 1 of that study, Private Sector workers in NJ do have a 4% (of pay) “wage” advantage over comparable NJ State Public Sector workers. However, Figure 6, which compares “Total Compensation” (wages + pensions + benefits) shows the opposite, with a PUBLIC Sector advantage of 23% (of pay), and if the incremental value of the much greater Public Sector “job security” is included, that Pubic Sector Total Compensation advantages rises to 34% of pay (as shown in Figure 13).

    Also, it should be noted that this study excludes the highest paid, pensioned, and benefited group of Public Sector workers …. Police and Fire. Had they been included, the PUBLIC Sector “advantage” assuredly would have been even greater.

    For arguments sake let just run with a 25% Pubic Sector “Total Compensation” advantage in NJ. Do you realize how HUGE that is. If they didn’t spend it, and invested it, over a full career it would likely accumulate to over $1 Million for many workers ….. all undeserved and being paid for by the Taxpayers, 85% of whom do NOT work in the Publc Sector and benefit from this largess at their expense.
    —————————————————————————————

    I can understand why you (or was that several family members if I recall from prior comments) would not want to give up what you were “promised”, but you were simply promised too much primarily via excessive pensions & benefits that are unnecessary to attract and retain a qualified workforce, are unjust, are unfair to taxpayers, are CLEARLY unaffordable, and which were GRANTED via the COLLUSION between the Public Sector Unions and our Elected Officials.

    While I would not be surprised if taxes will end up rising (very modestly), it is the pension/benefit side that needs and rightfully deserves very MATERIAL reductions.

    Reply

  12. It really doesn’t make any sense to keep pointing the finger of blame back 20 or 30 years. This huge problem exisits and needs to be fixed. The taxpayers have been paying the highest real estate, county and municipal taxes in the country for a very long time. The pain needs to come from the publics who have been miking the system way too long. Let the publics go after the double dippers, criminals receiving pensions, cronyism, dishonest disability cheats, etc. Go after all of the idiotic politicians that your unions forced you to vote for so that the status quo could remain. Go after the layer upon layer upon layer of administrators who sit at their desks all day with not much to do. Go after those people instead of the expectation that the private tax payers are good for it.

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on April 6, 2015 at 7:56 pm

      And ….. the younger Union members (with lower service years) should REALIZE that the older, long-service workers don’t give a CRAP about THEM, and are only trying to make it to the finish line unscathed (believing that the pension & benefits of those already retired will never be touched).

      Don’t fall for that …. while ALL OF YOU are ripping off the taxpayers, those long-service older Union members are ROYALLY ripping off the younger workers.

      If you understood the pension math, you would know that the bulk of all pension accruals occur in the last 5 years before retirement …. and it THAT group screwing the younger workers. Rise up and end these DB pensions NOW …. and save more of what’s left for YOU.

      Reply

  13. Posted by Anonymous on May 24, 2015 at 9:01 am

    TL and devout followers; individuals presenting a right wing conservative perspective based on half-truths and lies.

    TL continual posts repetitive misinformation citing sources with extreme ideology. Yet sumarial dismisses other posts with conflicting opinions and sources.

    Specifically, purposely misstated the tax status of public pensions in the following post; https://burypensions.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/christie-curses-out-nj-media/#comments When called to task tried to double talk their way out of it. Standard operating procedure for most of their commentary.

    Fair and equal for all is the mantra. Fair enough, but not when I suggest Federal workers and members of our beloved Armed Forces be part of the bigger conversation. The response, they’re different. But why, because they risk their lives like first responders at home. Their DBP are paid with Federal tax dollars as opposed to State or Local. Everyone knew the job risks when they accepted employment. But they also knew what their salary, pension, and benefits were supposed to be.

    To blame and demonize public workers for the current situation is unfair and untrue. Do politicians make “deals” with unions that don’t always have the taxpayers best interest? I think everyone knows the answer to that is yes. But politicians are always making “deals” it’s what they do. Just ask the various segment market corporations; defense spending (lucrative contracts), farming (subsidies) and the list goes on and on.

    Your bully tactics and demeaning attitude only motivate me more to push back your parties ridiculous vision for NJ and America. Yes I’m sure John knows all of our IP address, so you and your business name can be exposed as well.

    The purpose of continually posting this comment is to allow the counterpoint perspective to be heard. I will no longer personally engage your comments tit for tat.

    Reply

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