Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Christie’s Last Gift

Chris Christie spent part of his last full day as governor of New Jersey depleting the worst funded pension system in the nation for the benefit of political allies by signing S3620 after it swept through the lame duck legislative process in about a month. The bill appears to have been designed for former Camden Mayor Dana Redd, an ally of Christie and acolyte of South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross. On Friday, Redd was hired as the CEO of an obscure university governing board at a salary of $275,000.

$275,000 also happens to be the maximum salary that can used for pension purposes in 2018. Three years at that salary would develop an annual benefit of $155,000 ($275,000 x 31/55) whereas without this bill, Politico reports:

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New Tax Law and Unfunded Pensions

Robert C. Pozen had a piece in Marketwatch warning:

Unless states can implement effective ways to circumvent the SALT restriction, they will face much higher political barriers to meeting their unfunded benefit obligations through increased tax revenues. Instead, states will be forced to severely cut spending on public services and/or adopt major reforms of their benefit plans.

The story included a table of the four worst state pension systems with calculations of how much revenues would need to increase or spending would need to be cut in order to close each state’s funding gap. New Jersey had by far the largest percentages:

After dismissing any of these options as unworkable the author settles on:

In short, the new federal restriction on SALT deductions will open up a new window on reforming state benefit plans with large unfunded liabilities. As voters absorb the financial implications of the new restriction, they will probably oppose tax increases and service cuts to deal with these liabilities. Instead, they will pressure elected officials to renegotiate benefit plans to the extent legally permissible.

There are a few quibbles I have with this position based primarily on my experience observing how a local government operates.

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NJ Pension Payback Bill (4)

According to observer.com last week:

A5322/S3620- The Assembly will vote on a bill that would allow former Camden Mayor Dana Redd—as well as some other elected officials—to re-enter the public pension system she left in 2010 when she left the Camden city council in order to become mayor. The bill has been controversial, partly because New Jersey’s pension system is underfunded as a whole. The bill was introduced in the legislature last month and fast-tracked. It passed the state Senate last month, and Christie will likely sign the measure if it lands on his desk in the coming days—Redd has been a loyal Christie supporter.

Because of a snow day on that Thursday and a snag today the voting was delayed, but vote they did.

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NJ Pension Payback Bill (3)

According to observer.com on Thursday:

A5322/S3620- The Assembly will vote on a bill that would allow former Camden Mayor Dana Redd—as well as some other elected officials—to re-enter the public pension system she left in 2010 when she left the Camden city council in order to become mayor. The bill has been controversial, partly because New Jersey’s pension system is underfunded as a whole. The bill was introduced in the legislature last month and fast-tracked. It passed the state Senate last month, and Christie will likely sign the measure if it lands on his desk in the coming days—Redd has been a loyal Christie supporter.

Because of a snow day the vote was postponed to today. So what happened today?

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NJ Pension Payback Bill (2)

According to observer.com on Thursday:

A5322/S3620- The Assembly will vote on a bill that would allow former Camden Mayor Dana Redd—as well as some other elected officials—to re-enter the public pension system she left in 2010 when she left the Camden city council in order to become mayor. The bill has been controversial, partly because New Jersey’s pension system is underfunded as a whole. The bill was introduced in the legislature last month and fast-tracked. It passed the state Senate last month, and Christie will likely sign the measure if it lands on his desk in the coming days—Redd has been a loyal Christie supporter.

So what happened?

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NJ Pension Payback Bill

According to observer.com yesterday:

A5322/S3620- The Assembly will vote on a bill that would allow former Camden Mayor Dana Redd—as well as some other elected officials—to re-enter the public pension system she left in 2010 when she left the Camden city council in order to become mayor. The bill has been controversial, partly because New Jersey’s pension system is underfunded as a whole. The bill was introduced in the legislature last month and fast-tracked. It passed the state Senate last month, and Christie will likely sign the measure if it lands on his desk in the coming days—Redd has been a loyal Christie supporter.

So what happened?

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Confessions of a Political Hitman

I can honestly say that, in the dozens of confrontations I’ve had over the years with Democratic political hacks and bureaucrats, even when I was illegally being denied public information, I was never, I mean never, treated with with the disrespect and arrogance I met with during my time in New Jersey,

Stephen Marks, Confessions of a Political Hitman (page 269)

More excerpts:

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