Tuesday, September 23, 2014
NJ WATCHDOG: 7 deadly sins of NJ pensions = $104-B debt
For immediate release:
The fiscal future of New Jersey and Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential ambitions hang in the balance as Trenton finally faces the $104 billion deficit in the state’s retirement system.
One key is whether Christie and the Legislature can agree to plug costly loopholes and stop blatant of public pensions. If not, many public officials will continue to gorge themselves at the public trough while others make sacrifices.
A long line of governors and legislative leaders — past and present, Republicans and Democrats — share the blame for decades of unaffordable promises and political favors. As a result, pensions are underfunded by $51 billion, plus the state faces a $53 billion shortfall from retiree health benefits, according to the latest official numbers.
Joseph Blaettler is a poster boy for a governmental retirement system gone wild.
At age 46, Blaettler retired as Union City deputy police chief. Collecting nearly $135,000 a year from his pension, he will rake in more than $4.5 million by age 80, his statistical life expectancy. And that figure does not include the cost of his retiree health benefits.
“Politicians created this system, and I simply accepted what they gave me along the way,” Blaettler told New Jersey Watchdog. “If taxpayers want to get angry with someone, they need to ask their local and state politicians how they allowed the system to get to the point it is at.”
Christie is expected to propose a new round of reforms next month based on the findings of a special commission he picked to study the dilemma. The question is whether state officials can learn from their past mistakes.
During the past four years, New Jersey Watchdog investigations have focused on the “Seven Deadly Sins of New Jersey Pensions.” Reporter Mark Lagerkvist revisits the retirement shams, schemes, double-dipping, disability abuses, benefits giveaways, six-figure pensions and deadbeat behavior by state leaders.
The story is now online at http://watchdog.org/171777/deadly-sins-pensions.