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Jersey lawmakers look to dig the $135B pension hole even deeper

Sweeney & Prieto

By Post Editorial Board

April 2, 2017 | 7:32pm

Jersey lawmakers just don’t get it: The state’s massive pension-fund shortfalls last week prompted Moody’s to downgrade Trenton’s credit rating for the 11th time under Gov. Chris Christie, yet the Legislature wants to make the problems worse.

Moody’s cited New Jersey’s gargantuan, and growing, unfunded pension liabilities as key to its decision to lower the state’s rating from A2 to A3 — the second downgrade in four months.

The move reflects the “negative impact of significant pension underfunding” and “a persistent structural imbalance,” wrote Moody’s analyst Baye Larsen. Despite Christie’s notable boosts in payments to the funds, state contributions “remain well below the actuarial recommended” amount.

Yet lawmakers (of both parties) want Christie to sign a bill that would hand control of one of the state’s biggest funds — for police and firefighter pensions — to their union representatives.

“Giving management to the pension beneficiaries removes political interest from the investments and places responsibility with the employees who will benefit,” says Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D).

Uh, not quite — because the employees wouldn’t face any risk. With a majority of votes on the new board, union reps could hike benefits and slice the amount members must chip in. And if that plunges the fund further underwater, Jersey’s taxpayers would be the ones on the hook.