Path to Egress Town Hall in Union County

Tonight’s town hall in Union County on reform of, among many other things, public pensions provided several vivid examples of why anyone who can leave New Jersey will:

  • Scattershot format with nobody even mildly informed on the real situation,
  • An audience of mostly public union employees who thankfully overwhelmed the 30 politicoes looking for photo-ops and applause (which they mostly got from each other), and
  • Legitimate frustration on all sides with no answers beyond that ‘actuaries are working on it.”

Here is the full video with the times I deemed something notable was said (or shouted out) below:

5:45 grumbling

7:20 history lesson

9:00 shout-outs and POBs

19:45 Retiree Health Insurance costs – S2606

28:30: Q&A starts

29:30 Christie Whitman gets a mention

32:00 9% benefit hike in 2001 gets a mention

33:50 your pensions are guaranteed (though apparently COLAs weren’t)

35:30 $43,000 average cost for Health Insurance for teachers

40:00 audience takes control of Q&A format

46:30 NJ too expensive

48:40 Sweeney: “nobody has another plan”

50:40 Security!!!!

54:10 Sweeney: “find a solution or this place is over.”

1:05:30 questioning $43,000 figure

1:07:10 actuaries looking at it now

1:10:30 Sweeney: “not doing 2606”

1:19:40 RFQ on selling state assets with nonsensical explanation about “reducing the curve”

1:31:10 Sweeney: “came to Union County on purpose”

1:33:30 2011 reform numbers & Chris Christie kicking back pension money to municipalities

1:36:00 Scutari kissing up to teachers in contrast to Chris Christie’s “mongering”

1:40:40 Sweeney/NJEA adversarial relationship

1:48:30 How does a hybrid plan save the system? Good question with an answer that actuaries are working on now.



7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tough Love on February 14, 2019 at 1:28 am

    Wow, at 35 minutes in Sweeney stated that the Teacher’s healthcare Plan (which I’m assuming is for Family coverage) is $43,000.

    Yikes ………. it’s typicality about $25,000 in the Private Sector.


    If the teachers want such a RICH plan (generous benefits and low “cost-sharing) THEY should pay for the FULL COST in excess of the cost of the typical Private Sector Plan.


    • Posted by Anonymous on February 14, 2019 at 7:57 am

      $25K is a lot of money. I can’t see that as money well spent for almost everyone. IMO, insurance crazy is an epidemic. And the way the majority live their financial lives–from one emergency to the next–it seems silly to put such emphasis on insuring every cut and bruise. A good way to go to the poor house.


      • Posted by Anonymous on February 14, 2019 at 8:12 am

        No. A good way to go to the poor house is to have no insurance or be underinsured when it comes to your health. My wife sliced her hand open on a shroud of glass. $22,000 and a hand specialist later she was back to normal. Otherwise she would’ve had permanent damage. Way to expensive but needed. One health problem away from complete ruin.


        • Posted by stanley on February 14, 2019 at 10:11 am

          To each his own, but I would prefer (1) exercising care, (2) a high deductible plan and (3) a health saving account. I am aware that the news is full of folks getting stuck behind the nine ball, but I continue to think that year in and year out a person can choose between magnum insurance plans and being insurance poor.


    • Posted by geo8rge on February 14, 2019 at 8:23 am

      My guess is people with public health plans have more children and start families earlier. That might explain the higher health care costs per family.

      23:19 Speaker Marc Pfeiffer, New Jersey contradicts that merging smaller municipalities into larger cuts costs.

      30:00:00 The Kock Bros?

      44:40 Elementary school teacher from an NJEA family. Not only does she have very expensive benefits, but all her relatives also do.

      “50:40 Security!!!!” Large man in nondescript clothes askes the audience to maintain decorum and is confronted by large people in Communications Workers of America red hoodies.

      53:55 Transfer teachers benefits costs to towns.

      1:10:30 Sweeney: “not doing 2606”

      1:23:00 The assets we are looking for carry less debt and generate more revenue. One issue with the turnpike is it carries debt. In play is The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission . PVSC was mentioned in passing a few times.

      1:23:35 There may be an opportunity with local assets if you’ve got a local water or sewer system. (I wonder what other assets? Parks, Beaches, airports, local roads?)
      1:24:00 It helps solving our short term and medium term problems (aka kicks the can down the road). Over time maybe things can go back once we have good sustainability in our pension system.

      Unmentioned was the huge cost of 20+ years of wars. Also not discussed was figuring out ways increasing the supply of medical care and reducing costs of medical delivery.

      One problem with a discussion of savings is it does not appear that savings will amount to much in comparison to the pension shortfall. Corzine tried to sell the Turnpike but estimated the amounts raised would be unimpressive.


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