Thanks to the New Jersey Herald youtube site that uploaded the video of yesterday’s town hall in Sparta that revealed much about the governor’s propaganda campaign to reform pensions. Below are the excerpts from that meeting that deal with pensions and benefits starting with the stump speech:
Selective information, half-truths, outright lies, dodgy statistics: they were all in that presentation and those do not help solve New Jersey’s second biggest problem.* Here they are in order (with the time in the video they were asserted):
1:55- $31,500 average cost per employee for health care – really? Where is the backup for this? If you have 500,000 employees at all levels of government costing $31,500 each that would add up to $15.75 billion.
2:40- $750 million cadillac tax (when fully phased in) – but the numbers in the pension study commission report were $58 million in 2018 and $284 million by 2022.
4:15- $39,000 average New Jersey pension – but the 7/1/14 valuation reports put the average pension at $31,507.
6:15 and 31:25- put in more than any other governor $4.2 billion: but also skipped more payments ($14.9 billion) than any other governor.
7:05- $3 billion in savings by going from platinum plus to gold – will insurance providers who are often political insiders really take a $3 billion hit?
7:30- turn over pensions to the unions – when union (multiemployer) plans are almost as big a basket case as public plans and were recently allowed to arbitrarily cut benefits.
8:20- NJEA was on board for this reform – No.
9:30- only other options are raising the sales tax from 7% to 10% or raising the income tax on everyone 29% – eliminating county government not on the table?
15:10- not cutting anyone’s pension: ignoring the COLA elimination which is a question brought up later at 24:05 (are you serious?)
16:10- “when the economy doesn’t work” you can’t go to your boss to get what was promised – yet in his posturing for the presidency Christie claims that the wrecked ship of an economy he inherited is now sea-worthy.
31:50- “this pension is in better shape because of the reforms we made – it’s absolutely true – than it would have been had we not made the reforms” – debatable since the COLA could come back creating massive additional liabilities not counted on but notice that even Christie will not go so far as to claim that the pension system is better off now than when he took over which means that there is not even an iota of backup anywhere (NCPERS, the state’s actuaries, anyone willing to consult for $7.5 million) to support that lie.
Pensions and benefits desperately need to be reformed in New Jersey but not based on lies. Next blog: the real truth and it’s a whole lot worse than the story concocted by Christie’s people.
* A corrupt political system where campaign donors get to dictate policy is likely still the biggest problem but that may have more to do with my view of the shenanigans in Union County.
PS: Unions fighting back: