The Pew Charitable Trusts’ raw data is taken from the CAFRs of over 230 public pension plans comparing liabilities and assets (in thousands) by state. Five of those states happen to have liability amounts in the $190 billion range but when you look at the assets each has accumulated to pay those benefits a stark trichotomy emerges:
Archive for the ‘New Jersesy Pension’ Category
New Jersey politicians failed to follow orders from their public-sector union paymasters who got so mad that they threatened to hold back bribe money to which the New Jersey Senate president (and lead bribe-taker) threatened legal action.
A rare situation (since most politicians do follow through on what they have been paid for) but this could be a valuable lesson for the unions who would help most New Jerseyans if they changed tactics.
Chris Christie let off a little steam today, primarily directed against the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). According to nj.com:
Christie unleashed against the NJEA in his first public comments to reporters after Sweeney asked prosecutors to investigate threats by that union and the Fraternal Order of Police to withhold all campaign contributions over a feud about a voter referendum on public worker pensions.
“This is a dreadful group of leaders and for the Senate president and others in the Democratic caucus to join that chorus, I welcome them — very late — to the amen chorus about the fact that the NJEA is the single most destructive political force in this building,” Christie said, referring to the New Jersey Statehouse.
“It’s not even close. There’s not even a close second to these people,” he said. “(They’re) the most selfish, destructive people in this building — and everybody in both parties knows it.”
No details but the practice of purchasing politicians and abetting a system of legalized bribery is certainly deplorable though for Christie (the sellout king) only when others do it.
However, where Christie has a point (though I’m sure he does not yet realize it) is that the NJEA (like several other unions) has done a terrible job in getting benefits for their members funded properly but when it comes to their own Defined Benefit plan:
A story on njspotlight about New Jersey Senate President Stephen abandoning the idea of having a ballot question that would ‘guarantee’ funding of the state retirement system ends thusly:
“I’ve got to face reality with what we’re dealing with,” Sweeney told reporters yesterday. “It’s not sound fiscal policy to not know what a major cost is.”
But, due to the politician/actuary cabal that has been developing ridiculously understated liability and contribution amounts, that ‘major cost’ has been willfully unknown which has led us to….
“I’m blown away that they could make these kinds of threats,” New Jersey Senate president Stephen Sweeney said according to njspotlight:
Sweeney, during the news conference yesterday, also pointed to the message left for him by Fox, the police union official. He went on to cite both state and federal anti-bribery laws, as well as a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on a corruption case involving the former governor of Virginia that he said specifically referred to what constitutes bribery.
According to the, the federal statute “makes it a crime for ‘a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly’ to demand, seek, receive, accept, or agree ‘to receive or accept anything of value’ in return for being ‘influenced in the performance of any official act.’” The ruling also said “an ‘official act’ is defined as ‘any decision or action on any question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or controversy, which may at any time be pending, or which may by law be brought before any public official, in such official’s official capacity.’”
So what exactly was that $11.4 million that the NJEA paid to politicians over the years for?
Public employee unions in New Jersey want a ballot measure in November saying, among other things, that the state has to pay something into the state retirement system. To that end they acted:
County Democratic Party leaders won’t be able to count on New Jersey’s largest teachers union for political contributions this year because state lawmakers haven’t acted to put a constitutional amendment on state pension payments on the fall ballot.
Three county chairman told NJ Advance Media they received calls from a New Jersey Education Association lobbyist informing them the powerful union would be withholding campaign contributions until next spring out of frustration with stalled legislative action on the proposed public pension constitutional amendment.
To which Senate President (and lead Democrat and beneficiary of union money) Stephen Sweeney reacted:
Wendell Steinhauer, president of the 200,000-member New Jersey Education Association, came out with an op-ed on njspotlight today urging:
“a constitutional amendment to require the state to fund its pension obligations responsibly. It’s the least expensive, most responsible way to solve the problem created by a generation of fiscal irresponsibility. Amending the constitution to impose the fiscal discipline that our elected leaders lack is the only solution that will work.”
No it’s not and New Jersey has already set out on the another path. Now it’s up to the actuarial community to pave the way by officially sanctioning the default assumption.