the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Trenton NJ,in a last minute deal the state government shut down has been avoided . Assemblywomen Holly Schepisi , “Update for New Jersey residents. It appears a State shutdown will be averted. On the upside you will be able to go to the beach, the racetrack or a casino, and renew your license. On the downside you will be paying even more for gas, internet purchases, hospital visits, plastic and paper bags, Airbnb, Uber and Lyft, health care, and utility bills. I keep hearing a mantra of New Jersey needs sustainable revenue. However New Jersey has significant revenue. New Jersey ranks in the top 5 highest taxed states in the country. New Jersey has among the highest pension debt. Any tax and spending increases without real reforms to our pension system is irresponsible and reckless. Good luck New Jersey residents. You voted for this”
Unfortunately the state pension fund operates like a Ponzi scheme – it requires new hire contributions to fund current liabilities. Putting new hires into 401K’s would bankrupt the funds almost immediately.
The issue requires a number of solutions
1) Stop all new public employee hires from getting a paid pension Enable a 401k retirement plan similar to what many private employees subscribe to Why should we pay for these employees for decades they aren’t working
2) significantly increase public employee health care contributions This is real requirement for any chance at resolving the costs issue
3) increase the time worked requirement to 30 years and stop the multiple public job/pension/health cycle If you retire from a public role you are not eligible for another public pension
4) reduce the union requirements for public work contracts NJ costs to build are ridiculous due to union requirements This is sole reason states such as Florida have significantly less cost to build anything Put the bids out for all laborers union or not and set a fair price
5) Absolutey need to consolidate the various towns schools, fire, police, etc There has to be a way to provide services while consolidating and cutting overhead costs How many school administrators, fire trucks, vehicles, police officers are really needed in these small villages How many police and fire personal are getting paid or on pension just in RW?
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, watch out New Jersey you could be next , for decades in California, a sacrosanct rule has governed public employees’ pensions: benefits promised can never be taken away.
But now the California Supreme Court has threaten to reverse that premise and open the door to benefit cuts for workers still on the job.
California Governor Jerry Brown said legal rulings may clear the way for making cuts to public pension benefits, which would go against long-standing assumptions and potentially provide financial relief to the state and its local governments.
ballooning expenses are an issue that Gov. Jerry Brown will face in his final year in office despite his earlier efforts to reform the state’s pension systems and pay down massive unfunded liabilities.
At issue is the “California Rule,” which dates to court rulings beginning in 1947. It says workers enter a contract with their employer on their first day of work, entitling them to retirement benefits that can never be diminished unless replaced with similar benefits.
It gives workers security that their retirement will be safe and predictable after a career in public service. But it also ties lawmakers’ hands in responding to exploding pension costs.
It’s widely accepted that retirement benefits linked to work already performed cannot be touched. But the California Rule is controversial because it prohibits even prospective changes for work the employee has not yet done.
file photo by Boyd Loving
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Trenton NJ, Many firefighters, emergency medical technicians and other volunteer first responders in New Jersey are being told to leave their posts for six months.
Many volunteer first responders come from the ranks of the local town employees .
The State of New Jersey is saying that technically these volunteers hold two positions and must terminate from both positions in order to qualify for retirement benefits, when they retire .
State law says there must be a six-month separation of service from the town retires from before he can receive any compensation from the town again or else he puts his pension in jeopardy.
State Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-Westwood) said many towns rely heavily on volunteer services. Thus, she introduced a bill two years ago that would get rid of the six-month separation for firefighters.
“Went through committee unanimously; went through the entire senate unanimously,” Schepisi said.
The problem is that the bill has not been put up for a final vote in the assembly. If it is not voted on by this week, it expires.
Only Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus) can bring the bill up for a vote. Schepisi said he assured her it would move forward, but so far, it has not
Assemblywomen Holly Schepisi , “For my NJ friends please call your state assembly representatives and ask them to get Assembly Bill A-536 posted for a vote by Speaker Vincent Prieto on Monday. Our volunteer firefighters and EMS face losing their pensions if they continue to volunteer after retirement from a State, school or municipal job. My bill fixes this absurd requirement but time is running out.”
Doing something “swift and broad” will be far harder in light of the coming mass exodus of big dollar taxpayers caused by the double whammy of Herr Trump’s corporate tax hand outs (paid for by blue state property tax payers) combined with Murph’s soak-the-successful tax plan. The iceberg has been spotted, NJ is closing in on it fast and they are running out of other people’s money.
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, Gov. Chris Christie’s special commission on public pensions and health benefits released its final report on Wednesday: only swift and broad reforms stand a chance of rescuing a system in crisis.
New Jersey’s benefits for state government workers are now on track to consume a quarter of the state’s annual operating budget in 2023, and “the cupboard of relatively easy reforms is now bare,” the report said.
As it was for Christie, the pension system will be one of Gov.-elect Phil Murphy’s most pressing and imposing tests.
Christie earned national acclaim for working with Democrats to revamp benefits for government workers by increasing the retirement age, freezing cost-of-living adjustments and forcing workers and state government to contribute more to the system., but the Christie’s administration didn’t live up to its own ambitious payment plan, making deep cuts to the pension contributions, and he eventually set the state on a slower, more modest ramp up to the full payment recommended by actuaries.
Governor elect Phil Murphy has said he’d like to meet or beat the Christie schedule, But according to the commission “something more is needed, and quickly,” The commission report went on “Neither the 2010-11 reforms, nor the limited initiatives taken since then, will do anything to stop benefits from consuming 26 percent of the budget five years from now.”
Christie could barely scrape money together to get through the first half of a 10-part ramp up to full pension funding with a $2.5 billion payment this year , but the state will need more than $6 billion in yearly payments .
Murphy has already promised to raise roughly $1.3 billion in new taxes , but measured under national accounting standards, the state is $134 billion short of what it needs to pay for current and future retirement benefits. Combined with local government employers, the total system has racked up $168 billion in unfunded liabilities and has assets to cover just 31 percent of its debts.
Erica JedynakPublished 11:28 a.m. ET Aug. 22, 2017 | Updated 1:54 p.m. ET Aug. 22, 2017
New Jersey’s pension system is failing, and it is going to take a lot of good people down with it.
That sad fact adds a touch of poignancy – along with a dash of frustration – to the latest bad news on the state’s finances. The Mercatus Center, a think tank based at George Mason University, recently rated New Jersey’s state finances as the worst in the country.
While some of the data might seem obscure to non-accountants, the problems are all too straightforward – over-promising and underfunding. Successive administrations and legislative majorities of both parties have made overgenerous commitments, then failed to fund them, leaving a tab that the state’s future taxpayers cannot possibly cover.
New Jersey’s public pension crisis is a stark case in point. With more than $235 billion in unfunded liabilities – $26,000 for every man, woman and child – the state’s retirement system is among the worst in the nation. And while you’re reading this, the problem – decades in the making – is getting worse.
Paying for the past instead of investing for the future? Explains much of why NJ’s economy is in the toilet. Will.be an interesting test case on what to do as the state spirals down into oblivion. New legislation will be needed to resolve the liabilities, many of the needed federal & state laws haven’t been written yet, but states like NJ and Illinois will provide the necessary precedents. Current employees certainly won’t have it as good as current retirees, which is why some posters above are defending paying for the past and ignoring investment in the future. This is generational warfare, and the retiring baby boomers are winning, big time
By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
New Jersey is famous for saddling its homeowners with high tax bills. That prompted Paul Waters from Brigantine to ask, “Why are New Jersey property taxes some of the highest in the nation?”
There is not one answer.
Most obvious is that New Jersey has 565 municipalities, down from 567 — that’s 565 mayors, councils, town governments.
New Jersey also has more than 600 school districts, 586 of which are operational, each with its own superintendent and administrative structure.
Then there are the 21 county governments and their bureaucracies.
Public worker salaries and benefits are relatively high in New Jersey thanks to aggressive public sector unions.
Throw in the generally high cost of goods and services in the New York-Philadelphia region and you begin to see why our property taxes have been the highest in the nation for years.