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“Path to Progress” First Step in Putting New Jersey’s Fiscal House In Order and Avoiding Pension Apocalypse


the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, The legislative introduction of the fiscal reforms and cost saving initiatives from the “Path to Progress” report has already generated widespread support from an array of individuals and organizations throughout New Jersey, including:

“The state of New Jersey faces short and long term challenges. I was pleased to be part of the ‘Path to Progress’ team as several of our recommendations will significantly improve the fiscal health of the state – particularly those related to employee pension and health benefits, and school consolidation. Of particular note – even with the pension reforms – no current retiree or those employees already vested will be negatively impacted.” – Richard F. Keevey, former Budget Director and Comptroller for the State of New Jersey, former CFO, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and former Deputy Under Secretary for Finance, U.S. Department of Defense

“The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJCPA) strongly endorses the reform recommendations spelled out by the New Jersey Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup in its “Path to Progress” report and is pleased that many of the recommendations are now included in a new package of bills being introduced by Senate President Steve Sweeney. We applaud Senate President Sweeney for recognizing the detrimental impact of the cumulative costs being placed on New Jersey citizens and businesses. We look forward to working with the New Jersey Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup on this critical legislative effort.” – Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA (DC), CGMA, CEO and Executive Director, NJCPA

“In the months since we’ve released the Path to Progress Report, we have had numerous conversations with the general public on how we can collectively achieve a more efficient and affordable New Jersey. Affordability is the number one problem facing New Jersey, and it is clear that we can no longer ignore the systemic problems that are crippling our State’s future. The time is now to enact substantial and meaningful corrections to how the State operates before it’s too late.” – Senator Troy Singleton (D-Burlington)

“The recommendations our bipartisan workgroup developed required tons of research and the input of some of the brightest minds in New Jersey. These are bold, comprehensive plans that can save taxpayers billions of dollars each year. Today, we are turning those plans into actions. I am grateful that we were able to come together to put the future of our state first. There is no doubt that continuing on this ‘path to progress’ is the best way to ensure our children and grandchildren can continue to afford to call New Jersey home.” – Senator Anthony Bucco (R-Morris, Somerset)

“Senate President Steve Sweeney’s Path to Progress proposal is an important contribution to the discussion that New Jersey’s political and business leaders must have about making New Jersey more competitive and more affordable.  The Path to Progress offers viable options crafted by a bipartisan committee that include reforming the state’s pension and health care systems, consolidating school districts and reducing the cost of government.   The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce believes the recommendations in the Path to Progress will begin to address the systemic and structural issues that face our state. As we said last August, we commend Senate President Sweeney’s Path to Progress task force and its proposals. We look forward to working with our legislative leaders in instituting these long-needed changes.” – Thomas Bracken, President & CEO NJ State Chamber of Commerce

“The New Jersey State Building & Construction Trades Council supports the Senate President’s efforts to make New Jersey more affordable for the State’s hard working men and women.  The Path to Progress legislation presents practical solutions that need to be considered.  New Jersey’s working families are lucky to have Steve Sweeney fighting for them in Trenton.” – William T. Mullen, President of the New Jersey State Building & Construction Trades Council

“NJBIA has long called for a comprehensive reform agenda to address the structural challenges that have hindered our great state’s ability to be more affordable and regionally competitive. We appreciate Senate President Sweeney’s commitment to structural reforms that are desperately needed in order to provide New Jersey with a pathway for a fiscally sound and sustainable state budget in the future. The reforms recommended by the Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup would greatly improve New Jersey’s fiscal challenges in the short- and long-term, and serve as a much-needed alternative to the established and ineffective pattern of remedying budget imbalances with added taxes on our long-overburdened businesses and residents. New Jersey, more than ever, needs to act with a reform agenda that comprehensively addresses underfunded pensions and the right-sizing of health benefit costs. If we’re to ever make this great state more affordable and competitive, and not address our growing deficits with increased taxes, the time is now.” – Michele N. Siekerka Esq., NJBIA President and CEO

“The Path to Progress initiative has created momentum and focus for our government to address the fiscal challenges that continue to compromise the ability of state government to do its job. The introduced bills let us start the serious discussions we need to complete the framework in last year’s report. But we must avoid letting the perfect becoming the enemy of the good. We must press forward with solutions now, or we will continue the cycle of unsuccessful fiscal and policy reform efforts. I’m very happy to see the legislation envisioned by the Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup.  It is now the work of the legislature to move the process forward.” – Marc Pfeiffer Senior Policy Fellow and Assistant Directo, Bloustein Local Government Research Center, Rutgers University, former Director Division of Local Government Services

“This package of bills helps move the state toward a fair balance between the benefits for state employees and the taxpayers who pay for the benefits. These bills do nothing to reduce benefits or pensions to current retirees while helping right the ship. Whether one wants to just reduce the cost of government, or wants to reduce spending on pensions and health benefits in order to allocate money for other causes, everyone should support these bills. Once the savings are realized, the traditional debate over reducing spending or spending on other causes can begin again.” – Peter Reinhart, Director of the Kislak Real Estate Institute and NJAR/Greenbaum/Ferguson Professor of Real Estate Policy at Monmouth University

“I am pleased that after long and hard work by many, and lots of thoughtful input from the residents and stakeholders across the State, that the Path to Progress will advance as legislative initiatives.” – Ray Caprio, Director, Master of Health Administration Program, Director, Bloustein Center for Local Government Research

“I commend Senate President Sweeney, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Senator Steve Oroho and the members of the “Path to Progress” working group for their forward-thinking efforts to rein in costs at all levels of government. The recommendations put forth by this esteemed group of thoughtful legislative leaders represents a commitment to create a more affordable New Jersey by stabilizing tax structures, limiting governmental inefficiencies while maximizing our great State’s resources and services.” – Jack Kocsis, Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey’s Chief Executive Officer

“The seriousness of New Jersey’s fiscal problems cannot be understated. Seeing the Path to Progress recommendations take shape in the Legislature is an exciting next step towards making New Jersey affordable and competitive with our neighboring states. There are no quick fixes, but we applaud Senate President Sweeney and the sponsors of these critical reforms for forging ahead with a comprehensive fiscal strategy that addresses the underlying issues facing our state – unfunded pension mandates, tax structure and public sector health benefits, to name a few.” – Debra P. DiLorenzo, President & CEO, Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey

“I commend Sen. Sweeney and other sponsors for dealing head-on with tough stuff that must be done to avoid the pension system going broke and to finally control property taxes.  New Jersey is lucky to have a leader in Sen. Sweeney who has the guts to think about long term solutions rather than just the next election.  We’ve been far more fiscally irresponsible than other blue states for way too long, and this may be our last chance to turn things around before it is too late.” – Tom Byrne, Managing Director and Head of Equity Portfolio Management , Byrne Asset Management, Former Chair of State Investment Council, Co-chair, New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission

“The Senate President’s plan is a good start in addressing the key issues identified by the New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission. With respect to health benefits, the gold health plan offered in the Senate President’s plan is significantly more generous than typical in the private sector, and lowering the cost of health benefits will result in immediate, substantial and badly-needed savings for the State as well as for every municipality while ensuring good health care for public employees. The proposed pension changes are a down payment on the retirement system reforms proposed by the Commission. They may not solve the entire problem, but are a move in the right direction.”  – Thomas J. Healey, former Assistant Secretary of U.S. Treasury, Co-chair, New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission, Partner, Healey Development LLC

“We look forward to working with the Senate President and all interested stakeholders with the shared goals of the Path to Progress report: reducing costs, providing efficiencies and ultimately benefitting our taxpayers.   We thank those who worked on this report, both elected and non-elected and now that the bills are introduced, we are anxious to engage.” – Michael Cerra, Assistant Executive Director of New Jersey State League of Municipalities

“People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are facing a significant loss of the supports and services which address their most basic needs. Low wages for Direct Support Professionals who provide the day-to-day care to New Jersey’s most vulnerable citizens have resulted in a critical staffing crisis. It is imperative that New Jersey embraces sound fiscal policies that make it possible to provide the necessary funding for essential supports and services. We thank Senator Sweeney for his ongoing support of New Jerseyans with I/DD and for making their care a priority for New Jersey.” – Thomas Baffuto, Executive Director The Arc of New Jersey

“The Path to Progress is comprehensive, balanced and could be leveraged to address some of our state’s systemic challenges.” – John E. Harmon, Sr., Founder, President & CEO of African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey

“The New Jersey Association of Counties (NJAC) commends Senate President Steve Sweeney for his leadership and foresight to preserve the long-term viability of the State’s ailing pension systems, mitigate the never ending increases in public employee health benefit costs, and provide some relief to taxpayers who continue to struggle with paying the highest property taxes in the nation.” – John Donnadio, NJAC Executive Director

“We have gone year after year trying to ensure that critical programs and services are adequately funded.  The Path to Progress is the first strategy that I believe will allow our state to fund the services that are so desperately needed by the Intellectual and Developmentally Disabled community.” – Valerie Sellers, CEO, New Jersey Association of Community Providers (NJACP) and Chair, NJ Coalition for a DSP Living Wage

5 thoughts on ““Path to Progress” First Step in Putting New Jersey’s Fiscal House In Order and Avoiding Pension Apocalypse

  1. This is nothing more than a fight between Steve Sweeney and Phil Murphy.

    Sweeney thinks Murphy stole the Governorship from him, and Sweeney is after the teachers union because they backed a Republican candidate against Sweeney in the last election to teach him a lesson for supporting P.L. 2011 chapter 78.

    Sweeney asked Murphy to get the teachers union to back off and Murphy declined.

    This has NOTHING to do with lowering spending or reducing taxes.

    Chance of anything in this report becoming law……..0%

  2. I think Sweeney is right on. This approach has support from both sides of the aisle. If presented to the voters it will win by a landslide. The public employee medical and pension plans are strangling us

  3. I’ve never been a fan of Sweeney, but the reality is that Murphy, another over paid Goldman Sachs limousine liberal bought the governor seat by spreading money around as necessary to party leaders. Same playbook as Corzine. The libtard dumbocrats buy the union vote and return the favor by taking care of the grossly overpaid state employees. Corzine was literally “in bed” with the unions. His girlfriend at the time, Carla was the head of the largest state employee union. She spread her legs, he spread the taxpayers wealth. This state is an absolute disgrace.

  4. The pension system was fine in the governors took it to balance their budgets. How would people like it if cd’s & 401k’s were used. We paid for the pension. It is not the State’s money to play with.

  5. Since Sweeney was in cahoots with Christie on the Pension “Reform” Act of 2011, he has no credibility with me nor the multiple thousands of retirees whose pensions are
    rapidly corroding approximately 2% per annual with the withholding of COLAs. At this point, Sweeney’s positions and proposals are looking like personal payback at the public workers, especially the teachers, and the governor who backs them. There is a completely different message in them if you read them literately rather than literally. These proposals are more nefarious than they are being marketed. Sweeney is no friend to anyone other than Boss Norcross.

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