Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Mercatus State Ranks – 2017

The Mercatus Center just released their 2017 ranking of states by fiscal condition:

Based on the FY 2015 comprehensive annual financial reports of the 50 states, this study ranks states’ fiscal solvency using 13 metrics that assess the extent to which the states can pay short-term bills and meet longer-term obligations. State finances are analyzed according to five categories of solvency: cash, budget, long-run, service-level, and trust fund. These five categories are combined to produce an overall ranking of state fiscal solvency.

New Jersey solidified its hold as the worst of the worst with a per capita debt of $16,821, compared with a nationwide average of $4,272 and $12,118 for fiscal basket-case Illinois, but with an explanation:
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EA7: Regulatory Climate Change

If there was an underlying theme to the 2017 Enrolled Actuaries meeting it was uncertainty – as to what the tax laws will be and how the current laws would be interpreted and regulated. From session 701: Dialogue with the IRS/Treasury here are my notes on issues not previously covered:

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707 Crash Probe

What hit the Road Carriers Local 707 Welfare Fund (Local 707) is still out there and expect dozens of other multiemployer (union) plans to be in its flight path over the next few years.

MPRA is not working and calls for more of federal bailout will go unheeded.

How did we get here? The black box could be the 5500 filings.

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Connecticut Punts on Teacher Pension Payments

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy wants towns to start paying something for teacher pensions:

Currently the state is responsible for funding, 100 percent, the Connecticut State Teachers’ Retirement System — the fund responsible for maintaining retirement benefits for over 36,000 retired and 50,000 active teachers, school administrators and their beneficiaries.

The governor said the state can no longer afford to have towns not contribute to the retirement fund for teachers.

I get the part about not paying $407 million. In New Jersey we have a long established history of payment by whim.  But if Connecticut politicians also maintain a lapdog judiciary does it extend past the point of simply allowing them to shirk contributions all the way to forcing someone else (albeit the employers of the participants) to make those payments?

Since my last review of the Connecticut Teachers Retirement System the June 30, 2016 actuarial valuation has come out so it seemed like a good day for an update.
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Only Way to Save Public Pensions

Kill Defined Benefit plans. They do not work when run by governments:
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The main reason being that there are no funding rules so these plans all morph into pay-as-you-go arrangements at a level of benefits that taxpayers cannot possibly afford to pay so the participants suffer.

This handy chart links to websites and papers (all worth a read) from 28 think tanks that basically agree with that assessment.The chart was put together by the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS) “The Voice for Public Pensions” which is supported by corporations and, according to Union Watch, run by unions:

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Dopey and Sleepy on Tax Policy


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And that’s how tax policy is formed in New Jersey – under deadline based on dodgy numbers with no time (or inclination) for even the slightest review which, in this case, would show:
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Breaking News: NJ COLA Decision Out

Last March Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services lowered its outlook for New Jersey debt from stable to negative citing:

the potential impact of a lawsuit pending before the New Jersey Supreme Court that could require the state to reinstate cost-of-living (COLA) increases for retired public workers, which would boost the state’s $40 billion in unfunded liabilities  higher and annual required payments even higher. (The state’s unfunded liabilities are $135.7 billion under a different accounting standard)

At the time Returers reported:

S&P’s change in outlook “reflects our view of the significant long-term pressures the state is under related to its postemployment benefits and the potential for New Jersey’s situation to worsen over the next year or two based on current litigation and proposed legislation,” S&P analyst John Sugden said in a report.

That COLA decision came out today.

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