Posts Tagged ‘christie’

CF1 – Christie Freeze: The Obvious Critics

A Roadmap to Resolution of New Jersey’s pension and benefit problems deserves its own series so here it is: my assessment of Christie-Freeze  (since I could not think of an apt acronym I went with a combination of the major proponent and major feature) .

donut christie

The next few blogs will examine aspects of the CF plan and we kick off with those who will be the biggest losers under it.

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Christie Cleared Again

This time it was an investigation into a $15 million investment of New Jersey pension funds into a firm with ties to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker after Baker made a $10,000 donation to the New Jersey Republican State Committee that an audit, launched by Christie’s administration, found did not violate pay-to-play rules.

The reasoning, according to an story, went like this:

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Buying Your Press

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” ― Upton Sinclair, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked

New Jersey is a mess and the incompetent, bordering on corrupt, management of Chris Christie has exacerbated rapidly problems that have festered under prior governors, some less incompetent.  Yet media coverage of the demise of Atlantic City, the bankruptcy of the pension system and the rampant pay-to-play system of governance throughout the state vacillates between nonexistent and reluctantly regurgitating official pronouncements when it would cause comment not to touch upon the subject.

It is reported that New Jersey is the worst state for business with the most people moving out to escape the highest taxes.  Yet the biggest newspaper in the state does not expend any resources on investigating why or questioning leadership. Why would that be?

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Expect No Leadership on NJ Pension Issue

In anticipation of a state of the State address today the talk is of a presidential campaign as issues of relevance become props to manipulate instead of problems to be solved:

David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University, noted that Christie’s approval rating on jobs and the economy (35 percent) and taxes (31 percent) is consistently low. Overall, Redlawsk said that Christie had dipped into net-negative approval ratings for the first time among New Jerseyans in back-to-back polls last October and December.

Political observers expect the governor to make little progress on thorny issues in Trenton this year. Legislative Democrats are pushing to solve the transportation funding crunch issue with a gas tax, but adopting such a measure would make Christie’s path to the presidential nomination of an anti-tax Republican Party all but impossible.

Meanwhile, trust is already frayed from the last pension deal that Democrats say Christie abandoned. Christie is expected to announce another pension push on Tuesday but Democrats are not signaling a willingness to trim benefits further.

“His signature victory, pension reform, has turned out, in the moment, into nothing,” Redlawsk said.

The sad part is that wherever Christie decides to take us in his speech a media fed on rehashing press releases and public pronouncements will blithely follow.  This is what I expect to hear today at 2…..

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Who Fitch Really Downgraded – Again*

New Jersey’s bond rating have been downgraded seven times during the Christie administration with ratings agencies citing retirement benefit costs each time:

2/9/11 S&P Downgrade: AA- from AA

4/27/11 Moody’s Downgrade: AA3 from AA2

8/18/11 Fitch Downgrade: AA- from AA

4/9/14 S&P Downgrade: A+ from AA-

5/1/14 Fitch Downgrade: A+ from AA-

5/14/14 Moodys Downgrade: A1 from AA3

9/5/14 Fitch Downgrade: A from A+

The explanation of New Jersey’s most recent bond rating downgrade includes:

Above-average state debt obligations are compounded by significant and growing funding needs for the state’s unfunded retirement liabilities. Continued pension funded ratio deterioration is projected through the medium term and full actuarial funding of the required contributions is several years off.

It was the employee benefit liabilities yet only three years  ago the State Senate president assured us:


that the recent reform ‘clearly fixes the problem.”

Why didn’t Fitch believe him?

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Another Downgrade

Another downgrade of New Jersey’s debt and Fitch blames pensions and OPEBs that the state is incapable of fixing, freezing, or funding.

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Christie Shorting NJ Pension by $3.8 Billion?

The story first appeared in the International Business Times (IBT) with lots of charts under the screaming headline:

Gov. Christie Shifted Pension Cash to Wall Street, Costing New Jersey Taxpayers $3.8 Billion

Today it was picked up by AOL, Esquire, and Daily Kos all using the angle that Christie wants to take money from retirees barely scrimping by so he can give it to his Wall Street friends who then donate to political campaigns of his choosing.  But is that the real story?

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Pension Study Commission Members Announced

I predicted they would be a combination of five patsies and quislings but apparently Governor Christie could not fill out that roster so he settled on some professional people but raised the number to nine so as to assure that his original intention (having this commission rubber-stamp whatever study the Divisions of Pensions is almost done with) will play out though not through blind obeisance as originally intended but through internal bickering which this commission is certain to have plenty of.  The members, per the press release:

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D-Days for New Jersey Pensions

As in Decision Days.

Today a judge will hear arguments on whether the State can skip pension payments (it can for this year anyway) and tomorrow:

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Who Said We Fixed the New Jersey Pension System in 2011?

Today: “no one in their right mind would say that what we did in ’11 totally fixed a problem that is in the 30-40 billion dollar range”

but they did: