Also no entertainment at lunch so I get this time to recap events – including for the first time in my memory a disruption (not counting snoring) and ejection.
Christie promised in the budget address that he would “look forward to sitting with all stakeholders right away to discuss the specifics of implementing this plan.” But it appears he’s yet to actually do so.
Asked last week for an update on the governor’s pension-funding proposal, Treasury spokesman Willem Rijksen pointed back to the remarks the governor made in his budget address. Rijksen was also asked by NJ Spotlight if there was a document or policy memo available to fully explain Christie’s proposal, but nothing was provided.
Still, Rijksen held up the lottery idea when asked about the latest Moody’s downgrade, which runs the Christie administration’s total number of downgrades to 11, counting those announced in recent years by other rating agencies like S&P Global and Fitch Ratings. Rijsken also suggested Christie wants to see lawmakers take action on the lottery issue before the current fiscal year closes at the end of June.
“The governor has long said bold action is necessary now,” Rijksen said. “He looks forward to the cooperation of the Legislature in passing legislation to allow for the lottery transfer prior to the close of fiscal 2017.”
There was only one reason for the spending of 30 seconds fleshing out this idea in the budget address:
When I first started speaking out as a young actuary I had one primary focus:
Because of the power of the insurance lobby and those premium taxes paid to states for their mis-regulation that went nowhere. Until…..
Chuck Reed, former Mayor of San Jose, and a board member of the Retirement Security Initiative, a national, bipartisan advocacy organization focused on protecting and ensuring the fairness and solvency of public-sector retirement plans had an op-ed on njspotlight arguing against just approved to turn over the police and fire pension system to the police and fire unions.
It is true that the New Jersey retirement system has been a disaster, with systematic overpromising and underfunding running up billions of dollars of pension debt. You might think it could not get any worse. You might think letting the public-employee unions take it over might not be disastrous. You would be wrong.
If you think legislators and governors have been irresponsible, too willing to give out sweet benefits and too unwilling to pay for them, you are right. But legislators and governors at least have to face the voters from time to time. Instead, this bill would put people in charge of making decisions who never have to face the voters. People who have no interest in controlling the spiraling costs of existing or future benefits would get unlimited credit cards. New Jersey is set to jump from the frying pan into the fire.
The United States Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton as to, in the words of the Washington Times, whether some of the nation’s largest hospitals should be allowed to sidestep federal laws protecting pension benefits for workers. The court agreed last December to hear the case and will likely withhold any decision until their session ends this June.
The three supposed church plans involved, with links to their latest 990 filings including the page with pension obligations, are:
- New Jersey-based St. Peter’s Healthcare System – $112,548,076
- Illinois-based Advocate Health System – $114,939,487
- California-based Dignity Health – $688,650,936
Another State of Affairs program with another gubernatorial candidate and again it is the pension question up front:
Presumably a reference to more Pension Obligation Bonds which would certainly not have solved anything but rather made one aspect of the equation (the state’s deposits) slightly more predictable which was the heart of the 2011 reforms (trading away COLAs for some ‘guarantee’ of funding) and maintains in the minds of these politicians: