NJ Policy Group (1) – Why

The Economic and Fiscal Policy Working Group consists of a panel of tax experts and lawmakers* that Senate President Stephen Sweeney convened to examine New Jersey’s state and local tax structure. They have been holding private discussions since February looking at everything from how the state funds its schools to bolstering New Jersey’s underfunded pension system and reportedly have come up with 58 suggestions in a draft document.

I will look at the more interesting of these suggestions in subsequent blogs but it is the very reason that this sort of panel is necessary that has to be addressed.

Government by elected representatives has failed. The barrier to entry for office is a willingness to maintain the status quo for those who benefit under it and it is those people who  either put themselves or their proxies on ballots. Anyone willing to enter public service on those terms is unlikely to govern for the welfare of the general public unless given no other choice.

The electorate is too easily influenced by money and too often gulled into accepting the status quo as inevitable by those who benefit under it.

To the extent that this policy group is not infiltrated by these deleterious forces it deserves attention.

Next: The pension suggestions.



* Panel members as reported:

  • Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen
  • Sen. Steve Oroho, R-Sussex
  • Lou Greenwald, D-Camden
  • Eliana Pintor Marin, D-Essex
  • Sen. Troy Singleton, D-Burlington
  • Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego, D-Burlington
  • Sen. Anthony Bucco.
  • Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors
  • Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi
  • Michael Lahr, director of Rutgers Economic Advisory Service
  • Rutgers’ Bloustein Center for Local Government Research Director Raphael Caprio
  • Assistant Boustein Center Director Marc Pfeiffer
  • Senior Fellow Richard Keevey
  • Henry Coleman, a professor and former economist with the U.S. General Accounting Office
  • Donald Moliver and Peter Reinhart, professors of real estate at Monmouth University
  • New Jersey Society of CPAs Executive Director Ralph Albert Thomas
  • Frank Chin and Ray Kljajic of American Public Infrastructure, Inc.
  • Kurtis Stroemel, president at HR&S Financial Services
  • Jerry Maginnis, former managing partner of the Philadelphia office of KPMG
  • Former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak
  • Former state Treasurer Feather O’Connor Houston

15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by skip3house on June 20, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Lots of room to get around. Not specific.’ Platinum Rx level’ can be reduced by only 1%, need to drop Rx completely, as non public retirees pay own. Same with schools. Raise income tax brackets to pay 100% ‘Adequacy’, stop this gift to wealthy. We need school taxes to be based on ability to pay, not the home value..


  2. Posted by Tough Love on June 20, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    From the 58 suggestions in a draft document (Under the subheading ….. Pension and Health Benefit Reform):

    #8. Move from Defined Benefit pension system to Defined Contribution.

    #9. Create a hybrid defined benefit (up to a certain dollar amount) and defined contribution system for new and unvested employees.


    With little details it’s had to evaluate.

    E.g., for #8, who would it apply to …. new employees, currentunvested employees, ALL current employees ?

    #9 is clearer but is insufficient (BY FAR) to materially address NJ’s HUGE pension problem. There are ZERO “solutions” that do not included a VERY material (at least 50%) reduction in the “value” of future service accruals for ALL CURRENT workers.


    • Posted by El gaupo on June 20, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      My prediction is that nj pers will be closed to new employees or a hybrid less generous pension
      Tpaf will still offer a pension. They need good teachers and the pay sure isn’t a great draw.
      Pfrs will be a seperate entity and will not have any more reductions from this.

      The first to see pensions go will be new Boro hall employees and Dpw guys.
      The teachers will get a reprieve for now to study the rentention rates of new employees in the former pers fund.
      This state seriously values education. It is why most people with kids stay in the state.
      As far as health insurance goes. There are not many options to choose from. The high deductible plans are outright awful!! $8000 deductible for a family. Who can afford that risk?? So most folks stay w the horizon plans
      The healrh insurance costs nationwide are outrageous and eventually we will see Medicare for all. Once these plans start reaching $40 or 50k a year for a family, towns will start to not offer medical for non union employees. There is not a business in the country that doesn’t sweat health care costs. Outrageous and a black mark on this country.


      • Posted by El gaupo on June 21, 2018 at 6:32 am

        And by the way….how about the bill that piggy backs off of Christie’s last bill signed in office that again puts elected officials back in the pension fund!!! Remember the one that helped our friend Dana redd over there in Camden?? The Dana Redd that spearheaded the great effort that brought us the Camden county pd. The one that no one else wants to join and serves as spring board to other departments in terms of hiring.

        They are voting on it today. Wow. Cops, firemen and teachers have heard NOTHING but we are broke, we need pension reform etc for a decade now. And then this…..if this was an honest bill in wouldn’t be jammed thru last minute.


        • Posted by MJ on June 21, 2018 at 7:21 am

          at el guapo….yup and they keep on voting for the same corrupt people who continue to line their own pockets at the expense of everyone else

          Few things…..new teachers may start out lower on the salary range but they move up quickly. Teachers are NOT overpaid as most I know make in the 85,000 range and above to work 9 months out of the year with many paid holidays in between, This doesn’t include the fact that their medical coverage is paid over the summer when they are not working…….sweet deal not that it is an easy job but most jobs aren’t easy that’s why we call it “work”

          As for those great educations that we are all paying top dollar for…….was just out to lunch with my top cop friend down in South Jersey who was lamenting that they can’t find qualified recruits for hire as for every bunch that takes the civil service test most can’t pass it let alone any other entrance exam testing. They may have one solid candidate out of each group………um not to sound uppity but how hard could it be to pass a civil service exam????

          Sad sate of affairs all around but maybe they can lower the bar like what they want to do for the State Police entrance exam….my conclusion is that our great public schools are simply not producing educated, reading competent and basic math proficient students but what do I know…………



          • Posted by SeeSaw Jr on June 21, 2018 at 2:17 pm

            “As for those great educations that we are all paying top dollar for…….was just out to lunch with my top cop friend down in South Jersey who was lamenting that they can’t find qualified recruits for hire ..”
            You don’t believe this do you? Out here in CA we have the same cops making the exact same allegations, yet there are literally 100-500 applications for each open position, many have college degrees, many have already passed a state Police Academy that the themselves paid to attend and be trained. The allegations are all BS designed to get higher pa and benefits. The selections process starts out with a 10th grade reading and comprehensions test, followed by a physical agility test. Pretty much everyone i know can pass these de minimis “tests”. These tests take well over 6 hours to complete despite them being extremely short, the problem being they administer it to hundreds of applicants. Then when MOST pass ts east portion of the application process they go to a 3-person panel “Oral Interview” that lasts, no kidding, 5-8 minutes. Based on this “oral Interview” approximately 70% of the successful applicants that made it to this point are washed out, failed. The reason s simple, the “Oral Interview” was out into the selection process because it is 100% SUBJECTIVE. They wash out people they do not want, and pass people they do want, without regard to qualifications. This is where ALL the nepotism, creationism and Affirmative Action comes into play. If these “Oral Interviews” were not in place, an the OLD CIVIL SERVICE testing system were used, where the test is 100% OBJECTIVE; the entire hiring pool would be 180 degrees different. Of course it would also put a full and complete stop to the nepotism, creationism and Affirmative Action hiring, that is why they switched over to the “Oral Interviews” in the first place, to game the hiring process. No 5-8 minute “Oral Interview” is a valid or reliable indicator- in any manner whatsoever- of a persons ability to do a specific job. Including LE. But that is why the do it like this, to game and manipulate the hiring. Why do you think 25%-75% of these LE and FF agencies have relatives an friends being hired for the majority of the positions, when 500-100 apply? I had a friend who graduated valedictorian of is MBA class at a Tier 1 MBA school and he was hired by Goldman-Sachs. His interview process consisted of 24 different interviews over a 48 hour period. They run the applicants through every single major department to make sure they were going to be fit, personally, culturally and otherwise. And he interviewed not just with top managers, but also rank and file employees. GS wanted to make sure that if they hired a person for a high powered, high compensated position that they made the right choice, and that mean putting in major leg work in the hiring process, BEFORE the person was actually offered a job. Spend a few dimes upfront, prevents spending tens of thousands of dollars down the road for a bad hire. True story.

          • Posted by MJ on June 22, 2018 at 6:53 am

            SeeSaw…….anymore I’m not sure what I believe other than the system is broken and so corrupt that it’s probably too far gone to make anything good come out of it,,,,we are being inundated with unqualified, immature, low IQ people who are holding positions for lifetimes that they have no business being in (mainly the politicians). I do believe that the nepotism and cronyism prevents the more qualified from moving up in the public sector ranks and making a difference but what do I know?

      • Posted by NJ2AZ on June 21, 2018 at 1:01 pm

        The issue there is that the teachers fund is in god awful shape. The last time i looked into it, it would be depleted by 2024 and that assumes no major recession in the interim.


  3. Posted by SeeSaw Jr on June 21, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    “Government by elected representatives has failed. The barrier to entry for office is a willingness to maintain the status quo for those who benefit under it and it is those people who either put themselves or their proxies on ballots. Anyone willing to enter public service on those terms is unlikely to govern for the welfare of the general public unless given no other choice.”
    That was the BEST, most PROFOUND, on the MONEY statement describing the public pension fiasco I have ever seen reduced to words. TY!

    Do I have your permission t repost it (as my OWN 🙂 ?


  4. “Government by elected representatives has failed” Do you have a better idea?


    • Posted by skip3house on June 21, 2018 at 11:18 pm

      As in olden Greece, pick names out of a hat. Assures good schooling is done, as any kid may soon run the country.

      Elected people should be changed as diapers are…for the same reason…Mark Twain


    • Posted by Stephen Douglas on June 22, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      Benevolent dictator…

       Singapore is half the size of London but with two-thirds its population. It has an efficient bureaucracy, a corruption-free government, clean air, safe streets, excellent schools, affordable healthcare, high home ownership, and the third highest per capita income in the world. By most standards, Singapore is the perfect place to do business, a lovely place to call home. And we have Lee (Lee Kuan Yew) to thank for much of that.

      Lee Kuan Yew…

      “…you can’t fill stomachs with liberty, but you can chew up those who use it to oppose you.”


  5. […] on the lookout for some tax relief suggestions that were supposed to come out this past week from a group he got together. . . Nothing came out so far except for a story in the Asbury Park Press about a new rollout […]


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