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.