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Volcker Alliance : New Jersey has funded Only 36% of its pension debt with an unfunded liability of $143.2 billion

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, the state of New Jersey received a report card for managing its pension debts . The non-partisan Volcker Alliance, founded by former Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker, rated the state a D- for its failure to have properly “provided adequate funding, as defined by retirement system actuaries, for pensions and other promised retirement benefits for public workers.”New Jersey was one of six states to receive the lowest possible grade in the analysis, along with Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas and Wyoming.

As of June 2017, the Garden State has funded a mere 36% of its pension debt with an unfunded liability of $143.2 billion, 2nd worst in the nation behind Kentucky’s 34% funding.

The 2018 Volcker Alliance report, Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: Preventing the Next Fiscal Crisis, which, in addition to legacy costs, grades and proposes a set of best practices for policymakers on issues including: budget forecasting, budget maneuvers, reserve funds and transparency.

The report adds fuel to the fire of support for New Jersey pension and benefits reforms proposed in the recent “Path to Progress” report issued by State Senate President Steve Sweeney’s bi-partisan New Jersey fiscal policy working group.

· Shift new state and local government employees and those with less than five years of service in the Public Employees’ Retirement System and the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund from the current defined benefit pension system to a sustainable hybrid system and preserve the current system for employees with over five years of service who have vested contractual pension rights.

· Shift all state and local government employees and retiree’s health care coverage from Platinum to Gold.

· Require all new state and local government retirees to pay the same percent of premium costs they paid when working.

· Merge the School Employees Health Benefits Program into the larger State Health Benefits Plan and make the plans identical in coverage.While formal legislation has yet to be introduced regarding Senator Sweeney’s proposals, reports indicate that bills will be introduced by the end of the year or early 2019.

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The last thing N.J. needs is another entitlement


Editorial: The last thing N.J. needs is another entitlement

April 2, 2017 at 3:00 AM

State Senate President Steve Sweeney, the sponsor of New Jersey’s 2009 paid family leave law, wants to expand the program. Giving workers paid leave from their jobs to care for a sick relative or a new baby — and paying for it with a small, capped payroll deduction — proved to be a sound idea.

Abuse has not been widespread, employers’ worst fears have not been realized and some studies have contended that companies benefit from the program.

But there is no compelling reason to expand this new entitlement, as Sweeney (D-West Deptford) is unfortunately proposing now.

Oh, wait. There is one compelling reason: To boost Sweeney’s and fellow Democrats’ chances in November, when the entire Legislature is up for election. The Democrats shouldn’t need that much help this year. But Jersey pols, Democrat and Republican, never forget what keeps them in office — giving gifts to prized constituencies.

Sweeney, in particular, is in a bit of a jam, with the powerful New Jersey Education Association, miffed by his pushback on teacher pensions, vowing to fight him. Hence, a renewed commitment by lawmakers to dangle popular proposals in front of voters — like, say, expanding the paid family leave program.