Pension Byrne

I submitted a letter to the Star Ledger which is what led me to pick up today’s paper (since letters are no longer online at I did not find my letter* but there was a letter from Thomas J. Healey, co-chair with Tom Byrne of the  Pension and Health Benefits Commission that objected to an op-ed written by Charles Wowkanech blaming the chairman of the State Investment Council (also Tom Byrne) for the public  pension funding crisis.

There were conflicting numbers about how New Jersey fared with their investment returns as compared to other unidentified plans over varying periods but what struck me was an accusation of Wowkanech’s that I disagree with:

Finally, it’s time for a new chairman at the State Investment Council. Byrne is much more focused on promoting his own personal political future — he has been publicly “exploring” to run for governor or senate for the last 17 years.

His second biggest priority is giving the governor bipartisan credibility on unrealistic and unworkable “road map” pension reforms that would further gut public workers retirements. For a chairman that constantly states that “politics should not be involved” with the SIC, this is the most political chairman I have seen in over two decades.

My take:

  1. 99% of politicians in Trenton are focused on promoting their own personal political future;
  2. at this stage nobody or nothing can give this governor any credibility; and
  3. having a Democrat replace Christie’s high school buddy as head of the SIC provides an acceptable scapegoat for when the asset bubble bursts.




* To the editor: Chris Christie’s opinions on the gubernatorial candidates (Auditor 6/4/17) are irrelevant. He had his chances and he blew them all. Bill Brennan has more political capital. All Christie serves as now is a warning to others.

20 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on June 6, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    So what’s wrong with “gutting”the current LUDICROUSLY excessive Public Sector pensions in NJ ….. EASILY 2 to 4 times (4 to 5 times for safety workers) greater in “value upon retirement” than those typically granted Private Sector workers who retire at the SAME age, with the SAME pay, and the SAME years of service ………….. and with NJ’s Taxpayers now responsible for 80% to 90% of Total Plan costs?


  2. Posted by Anonymous on June 6, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Maybe generation whine can use some of their squandered, more than likely parents, money to pay off their student loans. Then get a decent job, contribute to the local/national economy, and finally pay some taxes!


  3. Posted by Anonymous on June 6, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    I wonder if our politicians ever realize the degree to which they lie to themselves.


    • Posted by Anonymous on June 7, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      After hearing Trump’s personal attorney’s response to Comey’s opening statement for Thursday’s hearing I would say selective reading, Comey said, Trump was not under a countersurvelliance investigation, the President and his attorney feel vindicated, why? Romney’s statement left open at that point that other investigation and eventually a counterintelligence investigation is a possibility. Me thinks this NYC lawyer might be out of his element. So there is publically documented evidence that our President is a liar and very deceptive. He provides the evidence thru his tweets.


      • Posted by Anonymous on June 8, 2017 at 7:47 am

        He also left open the statement that other past presidents could still be under countersurvelliance ….


        • Posted by Anonymous on June 8, 2017 at 12:21 pm

          W. Following the money will lead to Trumputin and Co. He is his own worst enemy and consistent at self-sabotage. This Administration is an administrative disaster.


        • Posted by Anonymous on June 8, 2017 at 12:25 pm

          The sons of the blind trust can’t be silent, eventually they will track their poop back to the Whitehouse, these people are not skilled at deception.


          • Posted by Anonymous on June 8, 2017 at 3:07 pm

            Basic employment law, Comey was not a federal employee after Trumputin fired him, therefore his notes belonged to him and there is no evidence “executive privilege” was invoked or applicable if Trumputin didn’t invoke the privilege during the meeting. Trump’s lawyer better hope his record is clean because the intelligence community will respond, but Sessions is in deep trouble and the criminal investigation by the special counsel is wider to include Trump and Co.

  4. Posted by Anonymous on June 6, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Below is straight from the current CAFR intro…..might be missing something so feel free to clarify. I’m assuming the below number is primarily for PERS State and TPAF. If so, even with significant health care reform (ie in line with private sector al la Jack’s proposal), how can NJ save more than (rough optimistic assumption) half the current year recommended appropriation?

    The State funds post-retirement medical benefits on a “pay-as-you-go” basis, which means that the State does not pre-fund, or
    otherwise establish a reserve or other pool of assets against the PRM expenses that the State may incur in future years. For Fiscal
    Year 2016, the State contributed $1.829 billion to pay for pay-as-you-go PRM benefit costs incurred by covered retirees. The
    increase in the State’s pay-as-you-go contribution between Fiscal Year 2015 and Fiscal Year 2016 is attributed to rising health
    care costs, an increase in the number of participants qualifying for State-paid PRM benefits at retirement and larger fund balance
    utilization in Fiscal Year 2015 than in Fiscal Year 2016. The Fiscal Year 2017 Appropriations Act includes $1.930 billion as the
    State’s contribution to fund pay-as-you-go PRM costs.


  5. Posted by Anonymous on June 7, 2017 at 7:44 am

    No worries the pension funds are in good hands either way;

    Union guy status quo run it into the ground OR triple dipper stick it to those least compensated and status quo for P&FRS, SPRS, and JRS – the latter two most underfunded due to compensation and historically lack of employee/employer contributions!

    It’s alot like gambling, but it all on black or red and hope it doesn’t land on green!


  6. Posted by George on June 7, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    “when the asset bubble bursts.” Gee wiz, arent hegde funds supposed to hedge? But the good news, if there is a bubble and it bursts, atleast NJ is not fully funded.


    • Posted by Anonymous on June 7, 2017 at 8:40 pm

      No, with the Union-ass-kissing Phil Murphy likely NJ’s next governor, the question is ………….. will taxes go through the roof to pay for not only the full (ludicrously excessive) PAST service accruals, but the ADDITIONAL DB Plan accruals for their FUTURE service? We certainly CANNOT afford the latter, and likely cannot afford 100% of the former either.

      Without question, if NJ is to have ANY hope of avoiding service/infrastructure/elder-care/sick-care insolvency, it MUST freeze the DB Plans for the future service of all CURRENT workers, and replace them with DC (401K-style) Plans with a Taxpayer %-of-pay “match” comparable to the 3% that Private Sector workers typically get from their employers.


      • Posted by Anonymous on June 7, 2017 at 9:36 pm

        So the state hasn’t made a full pension contribution in over 20 years and now they’re going to stop all employee contributions, payout all benefit claims and make 401k style contributions? News flash: the employees have contributed most of the money that is in the plan.


        • Posted by Anonymous on June 8, 2017 at 12:20 am

          What the workers have contributed is not relevant.

          Taxpayer contributions towards Public Sector worker pensions should be no greater than what Private Sector employees typically get from THEIR employers (because Public Sector workers are NOT “special” and deserving of a better deal) ……… and Taxpayer contributions to date likely already EXCEED that amount.

          On a Public/Private Sector EQUAL and FAIR basis, we (the Taxpayers) have likely ALREADY paid all that we should have…… and the fact that NJ Elected Officials (BOUGHT with Public Sector Union money & support) have promised more than they should have, should be the workers/retirees problem, NOT the Taxpayers.


          • Posted by dentss dunnigan on June 8, 2017 at 9:08 am

            All pension payments were made …the politicians took the money and used it to fund Abbott districts instead …look no further than the democrats urban districts to find the missing money just like the SCC billions that were “lost” …

      • Posted by Anonymous on June 9, 2017 at 9:22 pm

        Pucker up and get out the vaseline, ouch?


  7. Posted by MJ on June 8, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Oh well…looks like Murphy will be the next governor so it will be business as usual


    • Posted by Anonymous on June 8, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Yes, but when reality sets-in, and when Murphy actually has to raise the money to PAY FOR the promises he has made, he may be confounded with such difficult choices and ONLY bad options, that he may regret choosing this path for his retirement.


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