Friday, June 5, 2015

AFP: Serious NJ Pension Crisis MUST Be Addressed

Americans for Prosperity is praising the members of the New Jersey Pension and Health Benefits Review Commission for protecting taxpayer interests and preserving the assets of the state’s government worker retirement system.

“With New Jersey’s Pension and Benefit System in crisis, it was refreshing to see a candid discussion of the issues affecting retiree benefits,” said AFP State Director Erica Klemens after attending today’s commission hearing. “The commission’s steadfast commitment to improving the system’s stability and refusal to support proposals which dig an even deeper hole for the state is to be commended.”

“At the same time it is very troubling and perplexing to see a number of bills on today’s agenda which would add significant costs and expand benefits at a time when lawmakers should be looking for savings,” lamented Klemens. “Likewise, it was startling to learn that there are lobbyists employed at quasi- and non-governmental entities who are receiving public pensions; a practice all commission members agreed should be stopped.”

Bills discussed today which would add to the state’s $170 billion unfunded liability, and which received unanimous opposition from commission members, included:

A3510/S1362: Provides for a one-time increase in PFRS retiree annual pensions under $32,000. (Cost to Taxpayers: $1.5M per year and additional total unfunded liability of $17.1M)

 A4271: Requires health benefit coverage for opioid analgesics with abuse-deterrent properties. (Cost to Taxpayers: $11M per year)

Conversely, legislation which would suspend pension checks for government retirees who re-enter the system making a salary of $15,000 or more was unanimously supported by the commission. Primary supporters of the legislation (A114/S883) include Senators Jen Beck (R-11) and Steve Oroho (R-24), and Assembly members Alison McHose (R-24), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37), Caroline Casagrande (R-11) and Declan O’Scanlon (R-13).

“Americans for Prosperity also commends the primary sponsors of Bill A114/S883,” added Klemens. “Yet, on balance today’s hearing shows that not enough is being done to address New Jersey’s serious pension crisis. Even worse, some lawmakers seem to be in denial as evidenced by their support for proposals that will only make a bad situation event worse.”

“The time to address our pension crisis is now. Americans for Prosperity urges lawmakers to come to the table and to fix this problem and give it the serious attention it deserves.”

Americans for Prosperity will hold a press conference on the state’s pension and health benefit crisis on the steps of the State House next Thursday, June 11, at 1:00 p.m., where the pro-taxpayer group will promote solutions to fix the system.

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