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Murphy removes Respected Wall Streeter and Pension Reformer Tom Byrne from State Investment Council


April 18,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Gov. Phil Murphy has removed Tom Byrne from his position on the State Investment Council, which he had held since 2010.Former Gov. Chris Christie appointed Byrne, who is managing director of Byrne Asset Management.

Byrne founded Byrne Asset Management in 1998. He serves as the Managing Director and Head of Equity Portfolio Management and brings over 35 years experience in the securities industry to his clients.

In early 1987, Byrne published a book on the relationship between stock index futures and the stock market, warning readers that “the stock market may well eventually crash” and that stock index futures “might accelerate it”. In 1988, he served as a member of the Brady Commission staff that reported to President Reagan on the causes of the 1987 stock market crash.

Byrne has been a critic of the current New Jersey pension system and come under fire from unions. Republicans expressed concern over the ouster of Byrne, who’s the son of the late Gov. Brendan Byrne and a onetime chair of the state’s Democratic Committee. The state pension commission warned pension and health benefits will eat up roughly a quarter of the state operating budget by 2023 if state officials don’t undertake difficult reforms.

With Byrnes help the state pension-system investments are up 8.6 percent during the 2017 fiscal year, according to the New Jersey State Investment Council. The returns are even more impressive over the past 12 months, topping 15 percent.

Byrne also won praise from union officials who serve on the investment council for helping to broker a compromise that cut down on the fees paid to outside money managers. However Byrne’s work on Gov. Christie’s bipartisan pension panel eventually cost him backing from public employee unions and his moderate views convinced New Jersey Democrats he’s not ‘Blue’ enough.

“Tom Byrne is one of the smartest people in government finance on either side of the aisle in New Jersey,” said state Senator Declan O’Scanlon, R-13th District, in a statement. “Tom has integrity. He is one of the few people in Trenton who isn’t afraid to say ‘no’ to the unions. He is a fierce and fair advocate for pensioners and taxpayers alike.

“This is not the kind of public servant we should be losing,” O’Scanlon said. “I am very concerned that the Murphy administration seems to be purging qualified, intelligent public servants – with no regard to the high caliber of work they have done for the people of New Jersey, and the continued value they are throwing away.”

Byrne, said publicly since November that he intended to resign by June 30 and that the governor was more than welcome to replace him sooner.