PublicBlind Poll

Fairleigh Dickinson University released a poll this morning that had all sorts of ugly numbers for Chris Christie. Nothing surprising until you come to the final paragraph of the PublicMind press release:

“All of the state’s problems are fixable. At least according to voters, the money and political will are there. Unfortunately, they don’t see political leaders willing to stick their neck out and expend the political capital to fix them,” said Krista Jenkins, professor of political science and director of PublicMind.

Are these people idiots?

The state’s problems are not fixable.  Take the defined benefit system.  The solution that Christie’s Pension & Benefits Commission came out with is that it has to be terminated and replaced by a 401(k) plan with the massive shortfall it now has funded by making public employees pay more for lesser health care benefits.

Would a cure for cancer be having the patient die and their family paying off astronomical medical bills for failed treatments?

Those PublicMind voters are obviously not aware that:

  1. $166 billion is not available to fully fund the defined benefit system to date,
  2. $5 billion annually is not available to fund future accruals under the current benefit structure, and
  3. there is absolutely NO political will to make the payments for (1) and (2) above

which is not entirely their fault since nobody (outside of this blog) has made them aware of the real numbers so they base their opinions on the half-truths, distortions, and wishful thinking they are spoon-fed by those whose incomes depend on keeping them in the dark.


35 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on June 23, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Wow what more can anyone say! Sounds like reforms are useless. Total financial collapse of ALL State obligations inevitable. This is why any potential P&B reforms MUST include dedicated funding source for earned pension benefits or what’s the point to unions and publics agreeing to anything.

    Terminate DBP, start DCP, downgrade health coverage, increase premium share, etc. – where does that leave us financially?


  2. Posted by Tough Love on June 23, 2015 at 11:32 am

    John, where the report says …”All of the state’s problems are fixable. At least according to voters, the money and political will are there.”…… I’m not sure THEIR concept of “fixable” is the same as yours (meaning that there really is money to pay all “promised” pensions & benefits in full and without tax increases that will crush NJ’s economy and rapidly accelerate outward migration).

    From this report comment ……. “Almost half of public employee union households (45%) believe fixing the pension system is the most pressing problem compared with fewer than half (17%) of those who reside in non-union households. ” ………. I’d bet that all EXCEPT the “employee union households” would consider a very material reduction to the current grossly excessive promised pensions & benefits to “fix” the problem.

    And to the commentators (all of whom seem to comment under “Anonymous” and fight even modest but “genuine” pension reform proposals),I suggest that you read the 3 numbered bullets in this blog-post several times, and start a up a SERIOUS discussion with your work associates and Union. Remember that expression …. half a loaf is better than none?


    • Posted by Anonymous on June 23, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      If no dedicated ARC funfing it’s sourdough!


    • Posted by Anonymous on June 23, 2015 at 10:17 pm

      Why would public employees agree to anything? If the gov isn’t willing to raise taxes on corporations and millionaires, the pension can’t be balanced on the backs of those who have paid in for years while taxpayers have yet to pay the full freight in any one year for the past 20. In fact, the homestead rebate program was created from funds diverted from the pension system.

      I’m willing to risk it. Let the state default on all it’s debt.

      Bring it on.


      • Posted by dentss dunnigan on June 24, 2015 at 2:08 pm

        Cab’t default on NJ debt’s guaranteed by our constitution ,something the pensions aren’t


        • Posted by Anonymous on June 24, 2015 at 5:35 pm

          Not exactly, it’s the ARC funding NJSC ruled on not the right for retirees to receive pension benefits earned.


        • Posted by Anonymous on June 24, 2015 at 5:38 pm

          Not all only the voter approved debt service. There is non voter approved type debt service type appropriationd imbedded in the Budget. For example, NJEDA Pension Obligation Bonds and DMV Securitization, any many others that could/would be challenged.


      • Posted by Anonymous on June 24, 2015 at 5:33 pm

        It’s a BIG gamble. Any additional reforms a la the P&B Commission report must coincide with a dedicated revenue stream for ARC funding.


        • Posted by Tough Love on June 24, 2015 at 7:05 pm

          “Coincide” is the operative word …. but NOT BEFORE the P&B Commission reforms are implemented.


          • Posted by Anonymous on June 24, 2015 at 7:55 pm

            Agreed, this time it must be cler and iron clad for all concerned.

          • Posted by Tough Love on June 24, 2015 at 7:58 pm


            Are you a retired NJ Public Sector worker?

          • Posted by Anonymous on June 24, 2015 at 8:13 pm

            No but I’m a realist with more (not total) understanding of the math reality. I feel we need to implement the P&B Commission reforms with dedicated ARC funding now. Stop the bleeding, bring fiscal certainty and hopefully economic recovery to NJ sooner rather than later.

          • Posted by Tough Love on June 24, 2015 at 8:32 pm

            Anon ,

            I’m impressed !

          • Posted by Anonymous on June 24, 2015 at 10:09 pm

            Sometimes individuals choose to remain in denial because they can’t or don’t want to deal with reality. It’s understandable but doesn’t solve the problem.

            I’m sure taxpayers are fed up. I’m sure publics feel betrayed. Consider the fact our politicians don’t have a clue, most publics are clueless as well.

            Then there’s the public’s subset, each with their own agendas and misguided justifications. We all need to bury the hatchet and resolve this issue once and for all.

          • Posted by Tough Love on June 24, 2015 at 10:35 pm

            Wow, I’m even MORE impressed.

            Unfortunately, you are part of a very small minority, the vast majority of your associates still stuck somewhere in the thick of “greed”, “denial”, and the “but I was promised” ….. completely ignoring the undeniably impossibility of getting all that “they were promised” (including a CONTINUATION of unaffordable accruals for FUTURE Service not yet rendered).

            You’d think getting full PAST service accruals, and for their Future Service their getting EQUAL to their Private Sector counterparts (and with high probability STILL more) is akin to a death sentence.

          • Posted by Anonymous on June 24, 2015 at 10:57 pm

            Real honesty might go a long way in resloving this matter.

            I have a general understanding of the P&B Commission findings and recommendations. Maybe just a convenient excuse but most discount the report because of the Governor’s inability to make the payments per c.78.

            As much as the 2011 reforms were touted by the Governor, I do remember him stating this was a good beginning (or something similar). Indicating to me more reforms were inevitable. I think the stagant economy accelerated the need.

            Time to get off the liberal and conservative bandwagon, time for a new party the realist.

          • Posted by Tough Love on June 24, 2015 at 11:17 pm

            You do have a better understanding than most, but those well-versed in pension funding knew (at that time) that the C78 changes were woefully inadequate long-term, even WITH a roaring economy. In fact, the ONLY change resulting in near-term savings was the COLA suspension.

            The 7-yr grade-in to full ARC payments would INCREASE the then-unfunded liability by an ADDITIONAL $15 Billion (and more if the stretch investment return assumption of 7.9% annually was not met). NJ’s Public Sector workers are darn lucky that the stock AND bond markets have done very well over the past few years ….. or it would already be “game over”.

  3. Posted by skip3house on June 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Better tell NJTV’s Michael Aron that his guest, pres. of NJEA, lied this past weekend, or both are just ignorant of these figures?.


  4. Posted by Anonymous on June 23, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Why are you people ignoring the federal deficit, things will go bust for the feds before the state goes bust. wake up people, talk about denial. Hey John do you really have that much faith in the Federal government?


    • Federal Govt. can print money to “pay its debts”; NJ can’t. It is interesting to predict who will go belly up first, the Feds or the various states (NJ, CA, IL, CT etc.) particularly if the broke states somehow convince the Feds to add to their fiscal woes by bailing out the various states’ Democrat/Union pension plans in order to continue getting support from that voting base.


    • Posted by Tough Love on June 23, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      Quoting …”things will go bust for the feds before the state goes bust. wake up people, talk about denial.”

      There is about a 0.0000001% probability of THAT happening.

      No doubt, another of NJ’s “Best and Brightest” we pay so much for.


      • Posted by Anonymous on June 23, 2015 at 9:02 pm

        there are many very intelligent people predicting the federal government will go bust quite soon. TL I hope you are right, but I fear you that you are afraid to face the truth. Printing money is not a solution to avoiding the collapse of the dollar, actually the opposite, it will hasten it. The Chinese own us.


        • Posted by Tough Love on June 23, 2015 at 10:08 pm

          Of course printing money is bad, but the USA remains the best “currency option” in the world …. by far. I’ll begin to worry when the US Dollar is no longer the world’s “reserve currency” (pricing of Oil, Gold, etc.).

          The Chinese screwed up …….. their HUGE ownership of our Treasury Bills, Notes, and Bonds, now makes US too big for THEM (China) to let US fail.


  5. Posted by S Moderation Douglas on June 23, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    La Haine quotes:

    “Heard about the guy who fell off a skyscraper? On his way down past each floor, he kept saying to reassure himself: So far so good… so far so good… so far so good. How you fall doesn’t matter. It’s how you land!”


    • Posted by Tough Love on June 23, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      I agree……..

      And noting that:

      (a) Mr. Bury’s 3 numbered Bullets in this post suggests that NJ’s Pension Plans (as currently structured) are doomed. Perhaps YOU know better ?

      (b) The Democratically-controlled (in the Union’s “pocket”) NJ legislature proposed Budget that passed yesterday (but which will likely be line-item-vetoed by Gov. Christie) calls for tax increases, but includes not even one item to roll-back the very generous pension formulas or provisions for FUTURE Service …… assuredly digging the pension hole even deeper.

      Do you REALLY think this is going to “Land” well for the workers/retirees ?


      • Posted by Anonymous on June 23, 2015 at 6:48 pm

        Politicians never tackle hard issues unless forced to do so. Trenton needs to create an immediate fiscal crisis to bring this issue to a head. Waiting is not a financially prudent option.No Budget w/o P&B Commission reforms including constitutional amendment for ARC funding.


        • Posted by Tough Love on June 23, 2015 at 6:54 pm

          Yes, a constitutional amendment for ARC funding upon implementation of the NJ Pension Commission’s recommendation to

          (a) freeze the existing DB plans for all CURRENT State and Local workers (ZERO future growth …. EVER), and

          (b) pay off the existing unfunded liability associated with PAST service pension accruals via MAJOR reductions in healthcare benefits to all current and retired workers.

          Without (a) and (b) the Taxpayers would be nut to accept ANY tax increases and just STARVE these pensions until dead.


          • Posted by Anonymous on June 23, 2015 at 7:22 pm

            I think what you’ve stated is reasonable and workable BUT only if ALL stakeholders feet are put to the fire. Time for action is now, further delay digs the hole deeper for all.

          • Posted by Anonymous on June 23, 2015 at 9:04 pm

            i am still amazed that TL believes that the federal government is doing just peachy. No problems in the near future at all, just keep printing money. I am sure that will help when Social Security goes belly up as well. Talk about living in a bubble.

          • Posted by Tough Love on June 23, 2015 at 10:10 pm

            Gee, let me check ….. I don’t recall using the word “peachy”.

          • Posted by Anonymous on June 23, 2015 at 10:20 pm

            What have the “stakeholders” State of NJ done for 20 years other than divert funds from the pension system. Maybe you didn’t catch the latest ruling from the NJ Supreme Court–the legislation is binding only on the public employees not the state.

            Hoping the US Supreme Court will hear the case. Clear violation of the contracts clause.

          • Posted by Anonymous on June 23, 2015 at 10:40 pm

            It is what it is and we are where we are. Consider it deferred maintenance costs that have grown exponentially, what’s to be done now to fix it.

  6. Feds vs. NJ is no different than EU vs. Greece. Game over for public takers around the globe. But especially in the cesspool called NJ.


    • Posted by Anonymous on June 23, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      Hopefully you’re one of those who have moved on and out of NJ. If so congratulations! If not call the realtor and mover tonight.


  7. Posted by george on June 25, 2015 at 3:32 am

    Alice Munnell says everything is OK:

    The Funding of State and Local Pensions: 2014-2018 byAlicia H. Munnell and Jean-Pierre Aubry

    Required contributions continued to climb in 2014, but plans stepped up their payments from 82 percent to 88 percent of the required amount.The outlook for the next several years suggests continued steady improvement in funding unless plans experience lower than assumed asset returns.


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