Treasurer Muoio Announces New Jersey Has Paid the Full State-Funded Portion of the Pension Contribution for the First Time in More than 25 Years

Link: https://www.state.nj.us/treasury/news/2021/07012021.shtml

Excerpt:

State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio announced that the Treasury Department today kicked off the start of the new fiscal year by paying the full state-funded portion of the $6.9 billion pension contribution slated for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY 2022). This marks the first time in more than 25 years that New Jersey is making the full Actuarially Determined Contribution to the Pension Fund, plus an additional $505 million contribution, and also the first time in years that the state has made a lump sum payment, rather than quarterly payments.

The Treasurer also announced that by making the contribution in one lump sum, the State is now expected to save taxpayers roughly $2.2 billion over 30 years, rather than the $1.5 billion in savings initially anticipated if the state had made quarterly pension payments this year.

Publication Date: 1 July 2021

Publication Site: Dept of the Treasury, New Jersey state

Most New Jerseyans Are Fiscal Dullards

Excerpt:

That is what the Murphy administration has to believe for them to send out this piece of gripka:

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treating $10.19 billion in Biden relief money as if it will never have to be repaid (one way or another).

Keep in mind when reading just this one excerpt below that $6.9 billion represents about six months worth of payments out of a pension system that is still accruing benefits at record levels and as of June 30, 2020 reported unfunded liabilities under GASB of $128 billion.

Author(s): John Bury

Publication Date: 2 July 2021

Publication Site: Burypensions

Restoring Politician Pension Pork

Excerpt:

Jobs as judges, prosecutors, and municipal business administrators are the crock of gold at the end of a politician’s rainbow here and with bailouts, unlimited debt, and an apathetic tax base ripe for plucking politicians have an opportunity to sweeten the pots. According to politicoNJ that is exactly what they are planning on doing with five bills (one already enacted).

A4313transfers Administrative Law Judges from the Defined Contribution Retirement Program to the Public Employees’ Retirement System. The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) estimates that this bill will lead to annual State cost increases resulting from the transfer of Administrative Law Judges from the Defined Contribution Retirement Program to the Public Employees’ Retirement System. The first-year cost could approximate $2million.In subsequent fiscal years, the annual State cost will grow as a function of increases in judges’ salaries and other economic factors. The bill may also make Administrative Law Judges eligible for healthcare benefit sat retirement that are not available in the Defined Contribution Retirement Program.

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S3197Clarifies eligibility for deferred retirement for certain judges in JRS. PoliticoNJ guessed at who could benefit:

The bill appears to have been written with Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone in mind, as she otherwise would have to leave the prosecutor’s position when she reaches the mandatory judicial retirement age of 70 in 2024 in order to collect her judicial pension. It also could potentially apply to Judge William Daniel, whom Murphy nominated last week as the next Union County prosecutor.

Author(s): John Bury

Publication Date: 19 June 2021

Publication Site: burypensions

How Stupid are Credit Rating Agencies?

Excerpt:

Yes, unfunded liabilities as of June 30, 2020 are “more than $60 billion”. Much more ($128 billion under GASB68 and and $94 billion using understated valuation liabilities). But, setting that aside , how is Sweeney planning on reducing that massive debt?

Simple: lower pension payments…..

Clearly, we need to do everything we can to cut the cost of our annual pension payments at both the state and local levels in order to continue to guarantee the retirement payments our retirees have earned and to reduce the unfunded liability that is such a burden to taxpayers.

That is why we have developed legislation to enable our state and local pension systems to add revenue-generating assets like water and sewage treatment systems, High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes, parking facilities and real estate to provide new, diversified sources of revenue for their investment portfolios.

Author(s): John Bury

Publication Date: 17 June 2021

Publication Site: Burypensions

NJ PFRS Asset Move

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Excerpt:

The New Jersey Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) was supposed to get their assets to invest three years ago but the process seems only to be starting now with an RFQ for Class Counsel that the PFRS board sent out yesterday.

Here is how much is involved.

From the latest Division of Investment report there is about $89 billion to split up.

From the latest actuarial reports for the system PFRS is allocated about one-third of the market value of assets:

Author(s): John Bury

Publication Date: 15 June 2021

Publication Site: Burypensions

Treasury Rescue Won’t Bail Out Chicago, New Jersey From Debt

Link: https://news.yahoo.com/treasury-lifeline-won-t-bail-190632365.html

Excerpt:

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. Treasury Department is sending a message to states and cities that the billions in aid from the American Rescue Plan should provide relief to residents, not their governments’ debt burdens.

The department on Monday released guidance on how state and local governments can use $350 billion in funding from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package. The funds are intended to help states and local governments make up for lost revenue, curb the pandemic, bolster economic recoveries, and support industries hit by Covid-19 restrictions. In a surprise to some, these funds can’t be used for debt payments, a potential complication for fiscally stressed governments that had already etched out plans to pay off loans.

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Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker had suggested using some of the state’s $8.1 billion in aid to repay the outstanding $3.2 billion in debt from the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending facility and to reduce unpaid bills. Illinois was the only state to borrow from the Fed last year, tapping it twice. On Tuesday, Jordan Abudayyeh, a Pritzker spokesperson, said the administration is “seeking clarification” from the Treasury on whether Illinois can use the aid to pay back the loan from the Fed.

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The rule could also affect New Jersey, which sold nearly $3.7 billion of bonds last year to cover its shortfall during the pandemic. Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, a Republican, in April had called for Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, to use some of the federal aid to pay down the state’s debt.

Author(s): Shruti Date Singh, Amanda Albright

Publication Date: 11 May 2021

Publication Site: Yahoo Finance

N.J. teachers need to be told the truth: Their pensions are in jeopardy | Opinion

Link: https://www.nj.com/opinion/2021/05/nj-teachers-need-to-be-told-the-truth-their-pensions-are-in-jeopardy-opinion.html

Excerpt:

The very notable exception is New Jersey’s Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF), which is by far the single-worst public pension in the Brookings study. TPAF is New Jersey’s largest public pension fund and covers all active and retired teachers. New Jersey’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), the pension plan for state and municipal workers, is second-worst but not nearly in the dire predicament of TPAF.

This is what Brookings had to say about TPAF: Under any of their investment return scenarios, TPAF is in “near-term trouble” — meaning near-term insolvency. Brookings projects that TPAF will run out of assets in 12-to-15 years, at which point the $4.5 billion-plus in benefits payments will have to be made from the New Jersey’s perpetually strained state budget. This would be a fiscal disaster for New Jersey and a retirement crisis for TPAF’s 262,000 beneficiaries.

Author(s): Mike Lilley

Publication Date: 5 May 2021

Publication Site: NJ.com

What NJ Tells Creditors On Benefits

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According to the EMMA website New Jersey borrowed another $400 million last week for which they had to provide an Official Statement which included 20 pages on the situation with public pensions and benefits. Excerpts follow.

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The contribution of the Lottery Enterprise is valued as of June 30, 2020 at $12.569 billion, based on a 30-year straight line amortization. However, the first reevaluation of the value of the Lottery Enterprise required by LECA has not yet been performed. If the contribution of the Lottery Enterprise were not taken into consideration in calculating the funded ratio of the Pension Plans, the funded ratio of the Pension Plans as of June 30, 2020 would have been 37.6% instead of 49.8%. (page I-60)

Author(s): John Bury

Publication Date: 3 May 2021

Publication Site: Burypensions

Treasury reveals pension fund still holds stake in gunmaker

Excerpt:

New Jersey’s public-worker pension fund continues to own a small stake in a company that manufacturers firearms, several years after Gov. Phil Murphy and lawmakers first raised concerns about public investments in the gun industry.

As of earlier this month, the pension fund owned shares worth an estimated $28 million in a company that, among other products, specializes in making custom sporting shotguns and rifles, according to the latest information provided by the Department of Treasury.

However, the overall $85 billion worker-pension fund has cut ties in recent years with a manufacturer of firearms ammunition, which had been its only other direct link to the firearms industry, Treasury officials confirmed.

Author(s): John Reitmeyer

Publication Date: 26 April 2021

Publication Site: NJ Spotlight News

Op-ed: New Jersey’s fiscal mess might lead to statewide property tax. You’re forewarned, Illinois

Link: https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-prem-opinion-edit-fixing-illinois-chicago-budget-new-jersey-tax-20210423-a7dxpc5g4nhkrjgfbyzkrzvjxy-story.html

Excerpt:

Connecticut has opened the door for a statewide property tax that has no upper limit. It offers a “new” tax revenue source for states such as New Jersey that have failed to address their structural deficits and continue to live beyond their means. Many New Jersey homeowners refer to their local property tax bills as a second mortgage, since the burden often rivals or exceeds the monthly payments on their home purchase.

A review of New Jersey’s modern history of taxes shows citizens should rightly be concerned.

Our state enacted a personal income tax in 1976 to support public schools and provide property tax relief. The tax began with a simple two-rate structure consisting of a 2.0% rate on income below $20,000 and a 2.5% rate on income above $20,000. In 45 years, 8 brackets have been introduced without any substantive update to account for inflation, making this more burdensome over time. The only meaningful change has been to establish a new top rate of 10.75%, the 3rd highest in the nation.

Author(s): REGINA M. EGEA

Publication Date: 23 April 2021

Publication Site: Chicago Tribune

NJ Taxpayers To Be Byrned Again

Excerpt:

The state income tax eventually failed to stem the rise in the highest property taxes in the country since it was based on providing money to hundreds of de facto fiefdoms with no oversight. Ms. Egea goes on to speculate that Governor Murphy, with an even more pressing need for revenue, has another new tax in mind:

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In 1976, New Jersey voters passed a constitutional amendment that dedicated the entire income tax to the Property Tax Relief Fund and lower property taxes in 1997 did help Brendan Byrne get reelected. There is no time for that this year so expect the massive debt and structural budget deficit to be the excuse for this new tax that should be hitting in 2022.

Author(s): John Bury

Publication Date: 26 April 2021

Publication Site: Burypensions

The Heroic Congressional Fight to Save the Rich

Link: https://taibbi.substack.com/p/the-heroic-congressional-fight-to

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Excerpt:

However, the SALT cap didn’t so much go after “Democrats” as “affluent Democrats.” It only applied to people who itemize their taxes, which meant the 90% of Americans who take the standard deduction were unaffected. The deduction raised over $70 billion in just the first year, and roughly 56% of that money came just from the top 1% of taxpayers, living in a few states in particular.

The tax nastygram seemed directed at Trump’s hometown delegation. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in April of 2017 complained about the cost of protecting “Trump and his family here in NYC”; the SALT cap affected 19% of Maloney’s constituents in Brooklyn and on the Upper East Side, and taxpayers in that 19% each lost an average of $100,405 in breaks. Chuck Schumer, one of Trump’s fiercest critics, personally took over $58,000 in SALT deductions just in 2016.

Overall, 39 of the 40 districts most affected by the SALT cap were represented by Democrats. Of those, 28 came from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Also affected: Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district, where residents lost an average of $53,471 of write-offs. Trump’s campaign promises to take on “elites” proved phony, except when he was able to effect this targeted partisan strike at the people he knew and hated the most: rich, socially liberal Democrats, especially ones from the tri-state area.

Author(s): Matt Taibbi

Publication Date: 23 April 2021

Publication Site: TK News at substack