Opportunity to Deceive NJ

According to their website:

Opportunity NJ Inc is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization formed exclusively to promote the common good and general welfare of the people of the State of New Jersey through strengthening the civic engagement of New Jersey’s residents and businesses toward a strong and sustaining state economy.

Which translates into a business lobbying group that, as a 501(c)(4), means they are supposed to educate the public (as opposed to advocating for any politician or party) which is what makes donations they get tax-exempt.  For now, their three main issues are:

  1. Mandatory Paid Sick Leave
  2. Proposed Minimum Wage Increase
  3. Constitutional Amendment Requiring Pension Payments

They introduced themselves last Friday and, though they may be right about their first two priorities*, they need to reconsider number 3:
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What they need to consider:

  1. The constitutional amendment requires payments be made but the state (through legislation and the obeisance of the actuarial profession) still gets to define the amount of those payments which for the coming fiscal year will be 40% of what they should be (according to the actuaries though about 20% of what they should be in real life).  What would stop the legislature from passing a law defining these payments as 10% of what they should be? Or 0%?
  2. To make the payments the only options the opportunitynj people (and the rest of the political class) see are “massive tax increases for all New Jersey residents or a cut in important programs.”  There is a better third option.
  3. That future aspect.  Not funding pensions means that they will either be defaulted on or future taxpayers will have to pay for them.  If the goal is to entice people here then the obvious solution is to put $166 billion into the pension system now and assure anyone contemplating moving here that they won’t have to pay for services they did not benefit from.

.

.

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* Especially on that $15 minimum wage which is much higher than what states currently have and a lot of governments seem to be sold on from the revenue angle.  That is, they see their take from income taxes growing proportionately while ignoring the probability that a lot of franchise operations (ie gas stations, burger joints) will adjust (ie. fire people) and not only will those governments see less money but they will see a lot more empty storefronts.

 

 

30 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dentss dunnigan on February 23, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    The only problem with forcing funding of pensions now is that this is a legacy pension ,meaning taxpayers get no services or benefits for the promises of past politicians .Worst yet is that 25% of retirees checks are sent out of state with no benefit whatsoever to this state .Anyone thinking of moving into New Jersey should be made fully aware of what’s going to happen …perhaps all home purchases should be made aware under fairness to consumer laws .

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on February 23, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      Hopefully, the solution will primarily be Public Sector pension reductions, not Tax increases and/or service cuts.

      And yes, I’d be amenable to consideration of reasonable tax increases AFTER FUTURE-Service pension accruals afforded ALL of NJ’s current and future workers (as well as healthcare subsidies BOTH while active and retired) are reduced to a level NO GREATER than those typically received by Private Sector workers from their employers. Equal, but NOT better …………. on the Taxpayers’ dime.

      Until such reductions (as proposed by the NJ pension & Benefit Commission) are put in place, I’m 100% for starving these grossly excessive, unnecessary, unfair, and unaffordable Plans of funding.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Tough Love on February 23, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    John, There is ANOTHER aspect to that huge increase in the Minimum wage that is very troubling…… that from what I have read, some Union contracts have automatic tie-ins to changes in the Minimum wage ….. a me-too clause.

    If such “me-too” clauses are included in ANY of NJ’s Public Sector wages agreements, the Minimum wage should NOT be increased until such contracts are renewed WITHOUT such clauses.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Jim on February 23, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Saw this coming down the pike awhile ago (partly due to John’s dogged reporting) and have moved my company and myself to FL just like all the other taxpayers who have concluded that it is just not worth living in NJ due to the current tax rates and the new ones on the horizon. As far as having a constitutional amendment to decide the issue, it is just another ploy by our elected officials to kick the can further down the road in order to distance themselves from any backlash from the aggrieved electorate. Same old same old. Which is what got all of NJ here in the first place.

    Reply

    • Posted by dentss dunnigan on February 23, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      Unfortunately by “kicking the can” I assume you mean it fails ..it will do more harm to the unions that just the loss on the ballot …they will have thrown out any bargaining power that had ,any politician will look at any future gains to unions as not in his best interests ,the taxpayers just won’t foot the bill …..

      Reply

  4. Posted by Ralphie on February 23, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    John – I have read your blog three times and still don’t understand the point(s) you are trying to make. Do you really think that this group does not fully understand the “What they need to consider”? Do you agree that the State Constitution should be amended to include the Three Main Issues? Confusing.

    Reply

    • I do not think this group grasps the situation with the pension (effectively bankrupt) and are only seeing to it that their members (and donors) don’t have to pay more now.

      On the $15 minimum wage and paid sick leave they probably can come up with some useful ammunition since the people who put those two things on the ballot probably didn’t think much through.

      Reply

  5. Posted by bruce paterson on February 23, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    For OppNJ’s mission of the 3 items, what does the last item have to do with the first 2 items. The first 2 is for society’s lower income support/and or hourly workers in the private sector, the last one is for the government workers, a complete and different public sector issue. I have a feeling that these 3 will end up combined into some contrived single bill that will end up being voted on. This appears to be an end-run, JB1 recognizing it correctly as a deception. This group is now safely identified as corrupted with some ulterior motive. Pathetic.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Javagold on February 23, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    There are people are still trying to save this pension Ponzi scam ??? It’s dead you Fools.

    Reply

    • Well said. The unions and taxpayers are toast.

      Reply

      • Posted by Tough Love on February 23, 2016 at 11:49 pm

        No, not “Unions” …. but those promised these grossly excessive pensions.

        Reply

        • Posted by dentss dunnigan on February 24, 2016 at 10:33 am

          time has come for a constitutional amendment ..Don’t reward workers who leave NJ
          http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/opinion/readers/2016/02/23/rabble-rouser-reward-workers-leave-nj/80806164/

          Reply

          • My question is why are we subsidizing it at all whether public retirees live in NJ or not at this point in the shell game.

          • Posted by Tough Love on February 24, 2016 at 9:01 pm

            MJ,

            You’re correct. The issue of “moving away” is not really relevant.

            What IS relevant and eminently just, necessary, and fair …… given the fact that:

            (a) these “grossly excessive” pensions, estimated by Mr. Bury to be $166 Billion in the hole just for PAST service accruals, and “effectively bankrupt” (as he stated in an above comment) and

            (b) having been BOUGHT from NJ’s self-interested Elected Officials with Public Sector Union campaign contributions and election support

            is to Freeze them (zero future growth), and replace them and healthcare benefits both while active and retired) with ones comparable to those offered Private Sector workers.

        • Posted by S Moderation Anonymous on February 24, 2016 at 12:43 pm

          “these grossly excessive pensions.”???

          Now why are you so biased against all those clerks and custodians ?

          Reply

          • Posted by Anonymous on February 24, 2016 at 1:16 pm

            Cause you know in the privates’ mind public pensions TRUMP all.

          • Posted by Tough Love on February 24, 2016 at 1:50 pm

            SMD, Unlike you, I am not biased. I just object to the unfair theft of Private Sector Taxpayer wealth.

            At EVERY INCOME level, there is zero justification for compensating (in pay, pensions, and benefits) Public Sector workers more than what similar jobs (with similarly qualified employees) would pay in the Private Sector.

            And for Public Sector workers with the lowest incomes, if unable to meet basic needs, NJ’s Social Service system is the place to go to address those needs ….. just as it is for Private Sector workers.

            Public Sector workers are NOT “special” and deserving of a better deal ………… on the taxpayers’ dime

  7. Posted by George on February 23, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Past topic Solar Energy subsidies:

    Nevada’solar workers and customers reel as new rules ‘shut down’ industry

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/23/nevada-solar-power-industry-workers-customers-costs-solarcity-elon-musk

    “stranded some 17,000 homeowners who have already gone solar with a financial liability on their rooftops.”

    Reply

  8. Posted by S Moderation Anonymous on February 24, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Love him or hate him, Christie isn’t ALWAYS lying:

    “In fact New Jersey is a donor state, we get 61 cents back on every dollar we send to Washington. And interestingly Kentucky gets $1.51 on every dollar they send to Washington.”
    — Chris Christie on Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 in an article on NJ.com

    I wonder? What the total dollar amount would be if federal spending in states were more “equal”.

    According to TaxFoundation, in 2005, New Jersey paid $86.1B in federal taxes and received $58.6B in federal spending.

    61 cents on the dollar, like the big man said. A deficit of over $27 billion.

    Of course, it’s not as simple as the federal government writing a $27B check to NJ to make it “fair”. The federal taxes paid vs. federal funding received is much more complex than that.
    TaxFoundation:

    ” The spending-to-tax ratios are driven by demographic factors like the age of the population and the average income, not governors and state legislators.”

    It’s also affected by differences in fed spending on military bases and other federal employment within states. But basically, there is a lot of income redistribution, not just from high income to low income taxpayers, but from middle class taxpayers in high income states to middle class taxpayers in low income states.

    Probably enough difference to single handedly solve the NJ pension crisis. If we could only figure out how to really be “fair”.

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on February 24, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      “Solving” NJ pension & benefit crisis means (AT A MINIMUM) reducing the “grossly excessive” promises (for all CURRENT workers) …. not finding the money to pay for them.

      Should more money become available, there are FAR better uses for that money (e.g., increased education and healthcare spending) than enabling us to keep “grossly excessive” pension/benefit promises to Public Sector workers that should never have been made ….. and clearly the result of the Public Sector Unions’ BUYING the favorable votes of our Elected Officials with Campaign contributions and election support.

      Reply

      • Posted by Tough Love on February 24, 2016 at 3:33 pm

        And after rightfully reducing FUTURE Service accruals, due to the HUGE shortfall in assets associated with PAST service accruals, NJ has few options that do not ALSO include material reductions in (equally “grossly excessive” and unjust) PAST service pension accruals and the absurdly generous healthcare subsidy afforded NJ’s retired Public Sector workers.

        Reply

      • Posted by Now retired Pat on February 25, 2016 at 9:53 pm

        Perhaps “fair and equal” but not “better than prviate” should also be applied on the National level? Le’ts assume most CEOs in other countries receive 10X to 20X the salary of the average worker. In the US, it may be closer to 100X! Is that fair? Is that equal? Tax the super rich and make them pay more! Eliminate off-shoring of capital and tax investment income at a rate of regular income. Does anyone really think that will dissuade and discourage investment? Ridiculous! Any business-man will pull the trigger and make an investment in ANY INDEAVOR, if the net effect is POSITIVE! $1 in profit is sufficient motivation to go into business. It’s simple math.

        Reply

        • Posted by Tough Love on February 25, 2016 at 11:46 pm

          Now retired Pat,

          Actually the CEO-to-average worker compensation ration is closer to 300 times for the largest companies.

          Is it “fair”. I don’t think so. In fact I believe it to be outrageous. BUT, the compensation of high-paid Private Sector CEOs is mostly (and often over 90%) from the increased value of stock options …. which is why shareholders don’t complain too much …. the CEO only making the real big bucks when the Shareholders do well.

          There is no analogous element in the PUBLIC Sector … no share values to increase for the town’s taxpayers …… and therefor no gainss to share with the town CEO (or other employees).

          And who else but the Shareholders pay for this high Private Sector CEO compensation ? The company’s CUSTOMERS, with the “wage” and “cash bonus” portions of total compensation being a part of the company’s expenses, and therefore factored into the pricing of it’s products. And those company CUSTOMERS have choices. If too high CEO pay forces prices up too high, the company’s customers can shop elsewhere. This is a “control” on excessive “wages” and “cash bonuses”

          There are no such controls in the PUBLIC Sector. WHEN (certainly not “if”) the town overcompensates it’s workers, can the town’s Taxpayers refuse to pay for Police, Fire, or DPW service saying that they can buy it more cheaply elsewhere.

          Of course not, the Taxpayers are a captive audience treated as the “suckers” in the equation, an equation that calls for the trading of Public Sector Union campaign contributions and election support in exchange for our self-interested, taxpayer -betraying elected officials’ favorable votes onn Public Sector pay, pensions, and benefits.

          —————————————–

          When the determination (i.e., “negotiation”) of Public Sector pay, pensions, and benefits becomes as “arms length” as your Mortgage transaction (you noted in another comment), and the person representing the Taxpayers at that “bargaining table” is TRULY acting in the best interests of the TAXPAYERS ….. THEN we can talk about the Public/Private Sector “fairness” you bring up.

          Reply

  9. Posted by S Moderation Anonymous on February 24, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Don’t sit on the fence, Love. Tell us how you really feel!!!

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on February 24, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      OK, one thought comes to mind …. a Public Sector “light-bulb-changer” should get a pension & benefits no greater than a Private Sector “light-bulb-changer” …………….. lol

      Reply

  10. Posted by S Moderation Anonymous on February 24, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Or, a public sector state certified Journeyman Electrician should get the same pay and pension as a private sector Journeyman Electrician.

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on February 24, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      Agreed …. as long as the “Total Compensation” (wages + pensions + benefits) comparison reflects the true cost of the FAR FAR more generous pensions and benefits granted the Public Sector worker …. and incorporating the TRUE cost of his/her pension developed using conservative assumptions (that properly reflect the investment risks shifted to Taxpayers) and with sufficient in annual taxpayer contributions to FULLY fund that pension over the employees working years.

      And course, as I stated in a comment a while back (in our back and forth on PHD/Professional/CPA Public/ Private Sector Compensation) with the so-determined compensation adjusted for the measurable amount of actual work-product-output.

      I’d bet that the PRIVATE sector Journeyman Electrician that get’s PAID for 8 hours works for 8 hours. How many “hours” does the SALARIED PUBLIC sector Journeyman Electrician that gets PAID for 8 hours actually “work” (day-in, day-out)? If less he/she has to produce equal work-output in the fewer hours worked to justify equal “Total Compensation”. …..just like the 40 hr/wk Public Sector CPA isn’t entitled to the same compensation as a Private Sector CPA who puts in 60 hr/wk.

      EQUAL ….. but not more (or less).

      Reply

    • Posted by S Moderation Anonymous on February 24, 2016 at 9:28 pm

  11. Posted by Anonymous on February 24, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Not sure what I think about the first two items on this group’s agenda, I guess it would help some people in minimum wage jobs (no benefits, limited skills) as part of our overall society but how does forcing the state via a change to the constitution benefit anyone but public workers in society?

    Oh that’s right unions want to organize minimum wage workers………the desperation of these shell games speaks for itself.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Walton Blakey on June 19, 2016 at 3:27 am

    My colleagues were wanting a form last month and learned about a great service that has a huge forms library . If people require it too , here’s a link http://goo.gl/tpM71M

    Reply

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