Pew Ranks – 2016

Last week the Pew Charitable Trusts released their annual funding gap study based on data from the CAFRs of over 230 public pension plans.  I did a review of last year’s study noting data glitches but it is a worthy project for the Pew people to undertake for academic reasons. However, for practical purposes, here is why it is useless.

  1. CAFR data: supplied by state sponsors anxious to low-ball contributions it is unreliable but in unknown degrees among the states.
  2. Benefits will not be paid: New Jersey, for one, is certainly going to default on more ‘promised’ benefits.
  3. Too few understand enough to care: njspotlight did a blurb on the study noting that “New Jersey had only $75 billion in assets to cover nearly $244 billion liabilities, resulting in a $168 billion shortfall. This is an almost $33 billion increase over 2015, when the state reported a $136 billion funding gap.” That $33 billion increase in one year is about the size of the entire New Jersey state budget.

Anyway, here are the Pew numbers by state:

39 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by skip3house on April 16, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    Hopeless. There is no such number. $168,000,000,000.00
    Better immediately reduce to Zero by proportionately creating individual 401K-like accounts for each NJ worker/retiree based on existing funds. Phase out retiree medical


    • How about a deal with the FEDS to let all retirees onto the Medicare rolls and NJ taxpayers will pay the premiums. At least that way, the cost to taxpayers will be much lower since they are negotiated on a national level. The cost to the FEDS will be 0; the golden plans would all become silver immediately, and the premiums would be, I suspect, much lower than they are today?


      • Posted by Tough Love on April 16, 2018 at 4:58 pm

        I’d much prefer giving NJ Public Sector retirees the SAME Taxpayer subsidies that NJ’s Private Sector employers typically give THEIR retirees ……….. NOTHING.


      • Posted by skip3house on April 16, 2018 at 5:42 pm

        Anon.& El gaupo…..
        NJ already pays Medicare for retirees. NJ refunds the amount deducted from any Social Security, plus adds that 20% not covered in Medicare.. Plus rest of Rx…..

        Tried to make NJ workers aware of this funding gap about 2001 when I ran for NJ Sen., but opposition had already ‘promised’. I was told by a math teacher on candidate committee that promises are better than nothing…..(2001, now need ‘promised $168 Billion’ soon. So much for promises instead of actual funding. I tried then, but ‘promises’ sounded better than actual logic, and terrible what is needed now..2018). Why weren’t the promise makers feet held to their fire?

        In a 401K type, NJ still has a chance to do better for State workers by matching/exceeding NJ workers whatever extent political promises are matched by their necessary/unpopular political actions of raising the needed taxes, or were we all lied to?


        • Posted by Tough Love on April 16, 2018 at 5:53 pm

          NJ’s Taxpayers should demand that we renege on taxpayer-funded retiree healthcare “promises” made to PUBLIC Sector workers that are not also ROUTINELY granted PRIVATE Sector workers by their employers.

          They AREN’T “special” and deserving of a better deal …… on the Taxpayers’ dime !


    • Posted by El gaupo on April 16, 2018 at 5:01 pm

      Better get ready for the revolving door. Great news when a loved one is killed and the prosecutor is an overmatched rookie with no chance for a conviction. He will learn from his opponents and then join them. Allowing for another new guy to do the job. Seriously bro, what young guy/gal wants to make a career outta huge health insurance premiums, no pension and here’s the best part— shitty raises every year forever. Lol. It’s already started, ya fool, they are clamoring to raise judges pay (would’ve been done if not for Christie and his book deal being included in the bill—-fat piece of shit he was). Because they can’t retain them!! Same thing with the superintendents. Had to scrap that law after the post became a revolving door of interim superintendents. You folks think that there are lines of qualified people that will do work like that for a fraction of the compensation package. If that was the case why did they have to repeal that law? Look at what’s happening in these backwoods shitholes like WV OK and KY with the teachers. AZ giving 20% raises over next 3 years. Why do ya think that is???? WV got everything they asked for. Why??? Because there was no qualified people ready to fill in when they went on strike. You seem like a cheap bastard who doesn’t want to pay his fair share. Then move to Alabama. Lol. Educate your kids there and see how they make it after high school. Waaa waaa 401k waaa. You don’t realize the turnover you will see. The pension is like a ball and chain to have folks make a career out of public service. It ain’t making anyone rich.


      • Posted by El gaupo on April 16, 2018 at 5:13 pm

        Of course the truly elite class wasn’t really affected. Ya know, like mayor Redd our hero from Camden who had a law retroactively passed for her benifit. Imagine that. Thanks gov Christie for that one. Or all the Boro attorneys, municipal judges and prosecutors, etc. hell in my town they fired a part time Rex director making $30000 and replaced her with a full time one making $85000. For a suburban town. A closer look reveals that she was a big doner to a political party in town. Wow!!! But fuck the teachers and cops. Not the councilman who becomes a Boro administer at the end of his career to max his pension. This goes on in every town in the state. As well as on the county and state level. David Sampson, the chairman, and wildstien who your boy gave a nice plum job to. Created it for him in fact. A virtual cesspool of cronyism. But point the fingers at the police and fire. I could give a fuck what you think bro…that’s why we have collective bargaining. So train wrecks like christe can only do so much and I can enjoy a solid middle class lifestyle. If he was so fuckin great gaudagno would’ve slaughtered Murphy. She didn’t. If your so fuckin talented and we have it so god damn good, come apply. See what ya think after 5 or so years.


        • Posted by Tough Love on April 16, 2018 at 6:02 pm

          Quoting El gaupo ………….. ” You seem like a cheap bastard who doesn’t want to pay his fair share.”

          Wow ……….. coming from a NJ cop whose pension contributions (INCLUDING all the investment earnings thereon) have paid for no more than 15% of his absurdly generous pension, and almost nothing toward his Platinun+ retiree healthcare coverage.


        • Posted by Stanley on April 16, 2018 at 7:46 pm

          Officer Guapo Uno, Why do you get so angry and excited? Aren’t people paying the bills entitled to have an opinion on what is bought and how much is paid for it? Some of us understand that we have to live within our means. Most of us don’t drive Rolls Royce cars and most of us realize that we can’t afford Rolls Royce type Gaupo Unos to police our neighborhoods. The truth is, Officer Gaupo Uno, that most of us posting here have very little contact with the police and don’t see patrol cars in our neighborhoods. Read your own posts and ask yourself if they sound like the words of someone providing high quality police services or someone who has dispatched serve and protect and replaced it with loot and plunder.
          Meanwhile, you might want to brush up on your budgeting and spending skills, because that gargantuan pension that you have been counting on just might come up a little short sometime down the road. You might also want to work on your writing and communication skills–before you extol the great education system there in NJ.


          • Posted by El gaupo on April 16, 2018 at 9:38 pm

            Funny how your silent on all the examples I gave in my second post there. Politicians abusing the system etc. I’m sure you would find loads of them.
            Also, this is a blog where most of my responses are typed on my iPhone. It is for fun and obviously there will be some typos, etc. it is an informal setting. I write plenty of police reports that are more formal and written with the idea that they will be used in a court of law. I don’t find the need to be so formal with you guys. The NJ education system is quite good actually. Especially considering many of the cities on NJ pull the average down.
            The fact the you live in an area where there is not much police activity, probably means you live in a rural area or more likely a well off suburb. And I do save. 457, Roth. More than most of my co workers. I’m fact. In case what your saying does indeed happen. The fact that I even comment on here should give you some idea that I am smart with my money and understand the pension fund. Most cops as well as most citizens for that matter don’t pay nearly as much attention to their financial house as they should. Pfrs will take longer. Much longer than the others. So in closing, this blog is really just for fun. It in no way impacts or is representative of the way I conduct myself at work. There needs to be a counterpoint or this blog would be ridiculously boring. Sometimes it is many public workers(5 or 10 lol) that gang up on TL. No worries she can take it. I think she relishes it, as do I. If I expected everyone to agree with me I’d go on the PBA Facebook page. Lol.

          • Posted by Tough Love on April 16, 2018 at 10:19 pm

            El gaupo,

            Nice try, but come-on, didn’t your mama ever tell you that 2 wrongs don’t make 1 right?

            The world is FULL of injustice, and you could have picked numerous OTHER examples, some perhaps even worse than you ludicrously excessive pensions and retiree healthcare benefits.

            Those OTHER “wrongs” don’t justify the financial mugging of Private Sector taxpayers via the LUDICROUSLY excessive pensions/benefits that Public Sector workers are now granted …….. with the richest, and hence MOST egregious being those granted Safety workers.


            It’s a “brotherhood, right? Did you happen to know THIS guy ?


      • Posted by Tough Love on April 16, 2018 at 5:57 pm

        Don’;t be ridiculous………. NJ judges take the job for the absurdly generous pension.


        • Posted by El gaupo on April 16, 2018 at 6:10 pm

          I’ll give you that one. The prestige that a judgship carries and the pension are the reasons. It’s not the salary. The judges are all politicians too. They donate to a campaign etc and hen get nominated. The salary can’t dip to low though because then they will stay practicing law.


        • Posted by El gaupo on April 17, 2018 at 1:15 pm

          I just never hear you condemn that sort of abuse(by politicians). Never. And no I do not know this guy and have never been one to give pass to folks like him or disability frauds


          • Posted by Tough Love on April 17, 2018 at 2:15 pm

            OK, consider THIS comment my CONDEMNATION of lowlife Politicians (lol …. let’s start with Pres. Trump)

            I’m sure there aare 100s of OTHER things that deserve my condemnation. Does that list lessen the bad apples among Public Sector workers …. and the rampant “moocher” mentality?

      • Posted by Anonymous on April 18, 2018 at 6:08 am

        El guacho, I agree with you……once public workers are 7-8 years into their careers, the pension, generous sick days, limited accountability, guaranteed job status, cadillac health plans, etc all become balls and chains around their necks. Unless they are in the politically elite group where they can climb the ladder to a better position, these jobs leave little room for advancement or upward mobility plus IMHO most of these jobs are made up adult babysitting services………that must be a horrible feeling to go to work everyday knowing that what you do is bullshit…….. Private firms won’t hire them because they come over with public expectations of shorter weeks and all the above mentioned……………I know this from talking to many public friends and family members who lament that they can’t leave…….plus they have not been developing their skill sets, education or talents because of the setting that they are in where one is rewarded whether you excel or not………

        For example, a teacher with ten years experience can’t take a better teaching job at another school district because it is cheaper fo the new district to pay a newer teacher… I think part of the mentality of publics is just the feeling of being “stuck” till they wait out their 25 years and then hope to cash in on their promises

        Whereas, private firms and companies are looking for talent, advanced skill sets, work ethic, leadership capabilities, intelligence and problem solving abilities, etc. and the realization that if that person is not producing they are not getting raises, elevated positions, etc.

        I don’t mean to sound rude, but most publics I know wouldn’t last one week in the private sector………they are just “stuck” where they are and quite frankly I am tired of hearing them whine and complain about their situation


        • Posted by Stephen Douglas on April 20, 2018 at 10:33 pm

          Anonymous @ 6:08 am

          You may be right, but the median tenure for public workers is 7.7 years (5.8 years for state workers.) Public sector workers are hired by the private sector all the time, and vice versa.

          Damn public workers…

          “But as a new Gallup study indicates, many government jurisdictions are saddled with a preponderance of unhappy, indifferent and generally unproductive workers who are costing taxpayers billions of dollars in lost productivity.”

          “Considering the large share of state and local government budgets devoted to personnel, Gallup said “disengagement” is costing state and local governments up to $100 billion a year – or more than most states’ total annual budgets.”


          “More broadly, employee disengagement across the economy costs the U.S. economy roughly $500 billion a year, which suggests that the problem is just as prevalent — or more so — within the private sector.”

          “the problem is just as prevalent — or more so — within the private sector.”

          You seem to have hit most of the talking points, and I hope it made you feel better, but it’s all bulls hit.


    • Posted by Anonymous on April 17, 2018 at 1:28 pm

      These muni/state (and federal) pensions need to be methodically liquidized and phased out over a 1, 2 or 5 year period.
      Assets to be distributed equitably.
      Then replaced with a defined contribution plan JUST LIKE THE REST OF US.


      • Posted by El gaupo on April 17, 2018 at 5:03 pm

        Not happening. You will see either new hires in DC or a pension freeze on future accruals. And you won’t see that for at least ten years.


        • Posted by Tough Love on April 17, 2018 at 7:06 pm

          That’s what i am advocating for.


        • Posted by Anonymous on April 18, 2018 at 2:51 pm

          Hi El gaupo.

          I would agree with you, but I just don’t see taxpayers taking this for ten more years until they freeze them and switchover to DCs.

          At the local level, more and more “average joe’s and jill’s” are getting wise to the Operating Levi’s that pop up every year or every other year — again, at the local level. They’re finding out what we already know, current tax revenues are funding pensions and retirement healthcare benefits, and these “operating levies” are used to fund the day-to-day operations.

          The taxpayers are tapped out — then they look at their IRA’s/401k’s and compare their nest-egg to public pensions, and then start to sharpen their pitchforks.

          I don’t see this lasting 10 years — if it does, then liquidization may be the only real alternative. The taxpayer will NOT support throwing good money after bad.

          Again, I’m speaking at the local/county level — not the state or federal level — for this revolt.

          Take care.


  2. Posted by Tough Love on April 16, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    Great article for all those who believe that the KY teachers are being screwed by pension changes.

    Hint…….. it’s not so.


  3. Posted by Anonymous on April 17, 2018 at 6:11 am

    No worries,, we the private sector taxpayers, we’re all good for it

    the pension Ponzi scheme, including the health benefits, is the greatest theft of private sector wealth ever witnessed but no fear we are all good for it……..


    • Posted by skip3house on April 17, 2018 at 7:20 am

      “No taxation without Representation” seems to be ignored when going into debt for daily to yearly wages (including benefits) expenses by our NJ government.
      Where does it allow service wages performed in yesteryear’s be paid by future NJ taxpayers?
      Can this be considered theft by yesteryear’s NJ people, many no longer living, working, or taxed here?
      Could NJ be facing a Revolutionary/Boston Tea Party as unfunded pensions become ‘Pay as we go’ ?


      • Posted by El gaupo on April 17, 2018 at 5:07 pm

        Your duly elected representatives voted to defer payments for years. All to avoid having taxes go up. In order to secure your parents generations votes. Now the bill is due.
        Boston Tea Party. Yea right. The young would need to start with Medicare and social security first. lol.


        • Posted by Tough Love on April 17, 2018 at 7:27 pm

          What a load of one-sided BS.

          Why not mention that the ROOT CAUSE of the pension mess goes back to years ago when your Union BOUGHT our Elected Officials with BRIBES disguised as campaign contributions ……. and has continued to do so ever since ?

          That “BILL” would have been a great deal smaller in the absence of the excessive pensions granted as a direct result of those BRIBES.

          Hopefully (and RIGHTFULLY), you guys WILL BE “stiffed”, big-time.


        • Posted by Stanley on April 17, 2018 at 8:14 pm

          Officer Gaupo Uno: “Your duly elected representatives voted to defer payments for years. All to avoid having taxes go up…”
          Sorry buddy. You bought a bill of goods. You boys said to the authorities “this is a stickup. Hand over all of the available cash and we’ll take an IOU for what else we want.” See, it strongly appears that Wyatt joined up with the Cowboys. Pulled a job, didn’t ya. That IOU! There are money changers who buy committed promises of payouts. I wonder what one of them would give you in cash for your pension. You loaned a big wad of cash to a bunch of democrats. ha ha ha! Good luck on that one.


          • Posted by El gaupo on April 17, 2018 at 8:27 pm

            Last time I checked Whitman wasn’t a dem. Neither was DiFrancesco. Good try though.

          • Posted by Tough Love on April 17, 2018 at 8:50 pm

            Whitman only STARTED the ball rolling downhill with her POB offerring, but all the “Dems” that followed, surely made the problem worst with endless pension/benefit improvements.

            Time to trash these absurd “promises”.

          • Posted by El gaupo on April 17, 2018 at 10:03 pm

            At TL —name a dem that has awarded a pension or benifit enhancement since Whitman gave cops the 20 and out bill. DiFranceso….oh wait. McGreevey? Nah. All he did was give us this awful category one stream buffer that kills folks who have a C1 stream within 300 ft of their property. Corzine actually signed feel good legislation that banned new politicians from pers and politicians who leave their positions(yes the law the Christie reversed for your pal Mayor Redd) sooooo….where is this long list of Dems who have helped us enhance our pensions? Sweeney? Oliver ? Oops. Well maybe now they will…who knows.
            All I’ll say is that I’m a little taken aback that you hope I get “stiffed”. Yours words “hopefully (and rightfully) I’ll get stiffed—-big time”. I have honestly never wished that you would lose your job or take a huge pay/benifit cuts so that I could save a couple of bucks.

          • Posted by Tough Love on April 17, 2018 at 10:49 pm

            El gaupo,

            About 2 years ago I had a list of all the NJ pension enhancement over the past ~20 years … but haven’t been able to find it. Wouldn’t be surprised if it was published/linked on this BLOG.

            Anyone have it ?

            It seems that every year dozens of pension/benefit bills come through the Legislature …… and they ALL benefit some group of workers.

            It’s not just the BIG things, it’s all the little things that add up.
            Quoting ………… “yes the law the Christie reversed for your pal Mayor Redd”

            Where’d THAT come from …………… pissed ME off more than you !

            As for wishing you get Stiffed ????

            On the one hand I likely be “satisfied” with a freeze on ALL future accruals (not that that’s likely to happen anytime soon), but CLEARLY your PAST service accruals granted under the current formula/provisions are LUDICROUSLY excessive. That being the case, the pension hit to new workers and for the future service of current workers can be lessened if those excessive PAST service accruals are reduced.

            Share the burden with your “brothers”. No, not willing ?

        • Posted by Stanley on April 18, 2018 at 8:13 am

          Officer Gaupo Uno: “All I’ll say is that I’m a little taken aback that you hope I get “stiffed”. Yours words “hopefully (and rightfully) I’ll get stiffed—-big time”.
          Actually, I don’t waste my time hoping for results, and I am aware that ill gotten gains are at least as harmful to the recipient as the victim. Of course you are going to get stiffed. Buddy, it’s baked in the cake. You know, Stein’s Law? Unsustainable trends will stop.
          It isn’t at all nice to loot your town and to expect good will in return is just plain stupid. Wise up!


          • Posted by Tough Love on April 18, 2018 at 11:54 am

            Stanley, Nice line …………….. “It isn’t at all nice to loot your town and to expect good will in return”

          • Posted by El gaupo on April 18, 2018 at 1:36 pm

            We will see….as I said. Pfrs will be the last to be reformed. And will last the longest.
            Careful what you wish for….if it gets to the point where I get stiffed….I’m sure you will likewise feel the effect of higher taxes.

          • Posted by Tough Love on April 18, 2018 at 9:52 pm

            None of the Plans will get even REMOTELY close to a real fix UNTIL the 1-st big Plan (likelthe Teachers) crashes & burns with actual pension reductions.

            THEN (and ONLY then) will the other Plans take notice and think that compromise may be a better tactic than digging your heals in and refusing to budge.

  4. […] Pew values from which these charts were created are based on state supplied data which has its flaws, the main one being the discount rate used to value liabilities. The red lines spike when GASB 67 […]


  5. […] annual funding gap study based on data from the CAFRs of over 230 public pension plans.  I did a review of last year’s study noting the issues with using self-reported data but it is a worthy project for the Pew people to […]


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