The New Jersey League of Municipalities convention this week featured panels discussing the pension crisis in New Jersey from the perspective of past governors who in turns either initiated, exacerbated, or ignored the plan collapse:
and wannabe governors who have no clue on how to handle it:
From the past:
Then there’s the state pension system, which faces a $40 billion shortfall.
“I’m at a loss to even conjure up something that’s reasonable because the numbers are beyond comprehension,” Florio said. “I wouldn’t want to be in the position to give a State of the State in January. Because the state of the state is deplorable.”
From the future:
As for pensions? New Jersey’s public-worker retirement system faces a $40 billion shortfall.
Christie said the state simply didn’t have enough money in the last two state budgets to make full payments to the fund. But Democrats say the governor broke a 2011 law he signed promising to increase payments over time.
The state Supreme Court agreed with Christie, ruling against a group of unions who sued to force him to make the full payment.
Now, the question is what to do next. A bipartisan panel appointed by Christie has suggested making changes to workers’ health benefits.
During the panel Wednesday, the legislative leaders recycled arguments they’ve made repeatedly over time.
“We’re not finished,” Bramnick said of pension reform, noting that the state pays $3.2 billion a year on health benefits. “Things change all the time. We cannot afford to go on for next time years paying that kind of money. We need to change that platinum plan.
“It’s not that I want to do it,” he said. “It’s not great politics. But we will not avoid it forever.”
State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union) agreed.
“The cost of doing nothing over time is staggering,” he said.
Sweeney said the state is “really out of time” and that two of the state’s pension funds — for teachers and state workers — could soon be unable to cover their debt.
“If we don’t come up with a solution in the next two years,” he said, “we’re risking bankruptcy in the pension system.”
What was noticeably missing in the discussions among those who were in charge prior to Christie and those hoping to be in charge after him was any:
- acknowledgement of the real unfunded number
- valid solutions