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Senate President Sweeney on NJ Pensions: “We can’t grow our way out of it, we can’t tax our way out of it, and it won’t go away by ignoring it”

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

East Windsor NJ, Continuing to advocate for the fiscal and economic reforms needed to avert future financial crises, Senate President Steve Sweeney spoke at the joint New Jersey Business and Industry Associations (NJBIA) and New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce policy forum today where he emphasized the economic value of bringing fiscal reforms to public finances.

Senator Sweeney participated in “Meet the Decision Makers,” an event that features key New Jersey policy figures. Senator Sweeney spoke about the “Path to Progress” report issued by the 25-member study group that provides a working blueprint to achieve the operational and structural reforms needed to restore financial stability and affordable government.

Continue reading Senate President Sweeney on NJ Pensions: “We can’t grow our way out of it, we can’t tax our way out of it, and it won’t go away by ignoring it”
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“Path to Progress” First Step in Putting New Jersey’s Fiscal House In Order and Avoiding Pension Apocalypse

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, The legislative introduction of the fiscal reforms and cost saving initiatives from the “Path to Progress” report has already generated widespread support from an array of individuals and organizations throughout New Jersey, including:

“The state of New Jersey faces short and long term challenges. I was pleased to be part of the ‘Path to Progress’ team as several of our recommendations will significantly improve the fiscal health of the state – particularly those related to employee pension and health benefits, and school consolidation. Of particular note – even with the pension reforms – no current retiree or those employees already vested will be negatively impacted.” – Richard F. Keevey, former Budget Director and Comptroller for the State of New Jersey, former CFO, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and former Deputy Under Secretary for Finance, U.S. Department of Defense

Continue reading “Path to Progress” First Step in Putting New Jersey’s Fiscal House In Order and Avoiding Pension Apocalypse
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Jersey First President Rosemary Becchi , “The financial problems with New Jersey’s government finances are rooted largely in the state’s largest liability, the state pension system”

“New Jersey has become increasingly unaffordable for most of us. This budget will make that problem much worse.”

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Jersey First President Rosemary Becchi Urges Legislature to Act on Pension & Benefits Reform during Assembly Budget Hearings

Jersey First President Rosemary Becchi testified against the adoption of Gov. Murphy’s proposed 2020 Fiscal Year Budget today, urging the Assembly Budget Committee to first grapple with the root causes of New Jersey’s financial crisis and end policies that are forcing families and businesses to move out of the state.

Continue reading Jersey First President Rosemary Becchi , “The financial problems with New Jersey’s government finances are rooted largely in the state’s largest liability, the state pension system”
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Sweeney Town Hall Meeting On ‘Path To Progress’ Fiscal Reforms At Monmouth University

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

TRENTON NJ, Senate President Steve Sweeney will hold a town hall meeting from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, March 11, in Wilson Hall, Monmouth University, 400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, NJ to conduct a public discussion about the fiscal reforms in the “Path To Progress” report.

Hosted by Grey J. Dimenna, the President of Monmouth University, the forum will include the participation of Senator Vin GopalSenator Declan O’Scanlon and Peter Reinhart, from the Monmouth University Kislak Real Estate Institute and a member of the Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup.

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Senate President, Assembly Majority Leader focus on pension overhaul, benefits reform and property tax relief at Rowan event

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, while Murphy Administration called on liberal activists, to push back against state Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s big plan to fix New Jersey’s long-term fiscal problems , Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald tonight warned that New Jersey won’t be able to make critical investments in education, transportation, higher education and social services unless it enacts major structural reforms to address the looming budget crisis fueled by runaway pension and benefit costs.

Continue reading Senate President, Assembly Majority Leader focus on pension overhaul, benefits reform and property tax relief at Rowan event
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N.J. Republican breathes new life into Christie’s pension overhaul

Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon

 

A Republican state lawmaker has introduced legislation to pay for billions of dollars in upcoming public pension bills by reducing state and local health care spending on government workers. Samantha Marcus, NJ.com Read more

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Readers say with Pension Reform Immediate solutions for long term problems, are just not reasonable or possible.

Chris_christie_theridgewoodblog

All of the changes contained in the 2011 law that haven’t already taken effect will be fully implemented in just over 1 year. This law wasn’t designed to show a substantial immediate savings. It was designed to implement changes over a period of years and once ALL of those gradual changes were completed the impact of those changes going forward would have a positive effect on the states financial condition. Immediate solutions for long term problems, are just not reasonable or possible.

The full story on the Chapter 78, P.L. 2011 pension reforms… the problems are unfortunately still very much with us. Here are the facts: cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) were suspended for current and future retirees and beneficiaries from July 2011, but there’s been no inflation in NJ since 2008, so this is not an issue. The increases in employee contribution rates towards their own pensions are only gradual: from 5.5% to 6.5% plus an additional 1% phased-in over 7 years through 2019 for TPAF and PERS; from 3% to 12% for JRS phased-in over seven years; from 8.5% to 10% for PFRS members; and, from 7.5% to 9% for SPRS members. Given the “special” retirement option available only to PFRS members, who can retire after 20-25 years and earn more from their defined benefit pensions for life in retirement then they earned in compensation while serving, they should be contributing more than 10%. As for the increased health benefit contributions, employees subject to any collective negotiations agreement in effect on the effective date of the law in July 2011, i.e. CBAs, that had an expiration date on or after the expiration of the health care contribution provisions of the law, haven’t been subject to the new higher contribution rates yet. In Ridgewood, only Fire is now paying a higher contribution amount, while the PBA and the REA haven’t yet agreed to new CBAs that would trigger higher health benefit contribution rates… so Ridgewood taxpayers have yet to see much, if any benefit from the pension reforms of 2011.

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N.J. health care deal expiring

Trenton_New_Jersey

JUNE 21, 2015, 10:43 PM    LAST UPDATED: SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2015, 10:48 PM
BY SALVADOR RIZZO
STATE HOUSE BUREAU |
THE RECORD

Hundreds of thousands of public workers began paying more for their health care benefits after Governor Christie overhauled the system in 2011 — a massive shift that would save New Jersey taxpayers $3 billion over 10 years, administration officials said at the time.

But just four years in, instead of the expected savings, state and local taxpayers are staring at the prospect of footing more of the bill for those medical coverage plans.

The reason: Tucked inside the sprawling 2011 reform law is a sunset provision that says the higher payments required of public workers will expire in four years. After that, the provision says, all health care costs must again be negotiated at the bargaining table as union contracts come up for renewal.

For much of the workforce, that change kicks in at the end of this month.

So New Jersey’s powerful labor unions are gearing up for contract negotiations at all levels of government — from the state to counties, municipalities and school boards — with one unifying goal: to reduce health insurance costs as much as possible for their members.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/n-j-health-care-deal-expiring-1.1360313

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For Many American States, It’s Like the Recession Never Ended

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by Mark Niquette

Six years after the recession ended, many U.S. states are hard pressed to balance budgets because of a sluggish recovery and their own policy decisions. The fiscal fragility raises questions about how they will weather the next economic downturn.

A majority of states are making cuts, tapping reserves or facing shortfalls despite an improving national economy and stock markets at record levels, according to Standard & Poors and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. State revenue hasn’t rebounded to a prerecession peak adjusted for inflation, and other factors are putting pressure on budgets.

Alaska, Oklahoma and energy-producing states saw receipts fall with global oil prices. Kansas overestimated revenue after tax cuts, while New Jersey faces a shortfall thanks to unfunded pensions. Even some Republican governors have championed tax increases to avoid further diminishing services curtailed during the 18-month recession, the deepest downturn since the Great Depression.

“The extent of the weakness is really impressive,” said Donald Boyd, who tracks state finances at the Rockefeller Institute in Albany, New York. “There’s a lot of pressure on governors and legislators.”

Thirty-two states faced budget gaps in fiscal 2015 or 2016 or both, according to an April 27 report by Standard & Poors. The fiscal year ends June 30 in all but four states.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-20/six-years-into-recovery-u-s-states-struggle-to-balance-budgets

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While Democrats look to stamp out Free Speech , Christie and Teachers Union agree to Historic Pension Reforms

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While Democrats look to stamp out Free Speech , Christie and Teachers Union agree to Historic Pension Reforms

Christie lays out $33.8B budget; wants to make public pensions more similar to those in private sector

FEBRUARY 24, 2015, 1:00 PM    LAST UPDATED: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2015, 10:42 PM
BY MELISSA HAYES AND DUSTIN RACIOPPI
STATE HO– USE BUREAU |
THE RECORD

Pitching what he said could become a “national model,” Governor Christie used his budget speech Tuesday to speak almost exclusively about pension reform, returning to the issue that won him national acclaim and one that sets up fights with unions and Democrats that control the Legislature.

The governor’s reforms – a sweeping package of pension freezes, new union-controlled benefit plans and health care changes — would need approval from lawmakers and from voters who would be asked to rewrite the state constitution. And it is unclear how long the changes would take to enact, how much taxpayers would save and what it would ultimately mean for the more than 400,000 active public workers — including teachers, police, firefighters, and state and local employees — earning pensions and benefits.

Christie delivered his budget address before the full Legislature.
“I am here today to ask you to do what may be politically difficult, but what is morally the right thing to do,” Christie said. “This is the type of leadership our state requires.”

Christie’s team began the morning with a 15-second social-media video publicizing the address and touting his plan as having the backing of the New Jersey Education Association, the powerful union that spent millions against him and opposed initial pension changes he signed into law in 2011. By Tuesday afternoon, the union’s leaders blasted the announcement of a partnership, calling it “embellished” and “overstated,” and saying enacting such reforms would be a lengthy and complex process.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/christie-lays-out-33-8b-budget-wants-to-make-public-pensions-more-similar-to-those-in-private-sector-1.1276917

 

Republican Leaders praise Christie’s pension ‘roadmap’

TRENTON — Two of Trenton’s top Republican leaders applauded Gov. Chris Christie’s commitment to fixing an ailing pension and benefit system moments after the executive delivered his latest budget address during a joint legislative session on the Assembly floor here today. (Brush/PolitickerNJ)

Republican Leaders praise Christie budget address, pension ‘roadmap’ | New Jersey News, Politics, Opinion, and Analysis

 

Christie focuses budget address on pension system

It was a rousing welcome but an unusual budget speech. (Aron/NJTV)

http://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/christie-focuses-budget-address-on-pension-system/

Stile: Teachers union unlikely partner in Christie’s pension overhaul

Governor Christie sold it as one of the biggest political coups of recent New Jersey history — a plan to dramatically restructure New Jersey’s public-employee pension system with a new and very improbable partner, the New Jersey Education Association. (Stile/The Bergen Record)

http://www.northjersey.com/news/stile-teachers-union-unlikely-partner-in-christie-s-pension-overhaul-1.1277147