Lisa McCormick surveyed proposals from various gubernatorial candidates and offered this analysis as well as her plan for rectifying the state’s $50 billion shortfall in funding for public employee retirement benefits. Vote for one of us to fix public worker pensions.
Comedian Joe Piscopo says he will eliminate the income tax for public school teachers, police and firefighters in return for reduced benefits, as if people can live without pensions and the money missing from the state budget would not be noticed. Piscopo also says we can drop a casino into the American Dream mall in the Meadowlands, divert revenues from it to fund pensions and subsidize Atlantic City. It is a good thing he is not running for governor.
Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-Somerset) would deny benefits to public worker retirees whose pension plus Social Security exceeds $50,000 per year. Ciattarelli would also stick local property tax taxpayers, instead of the broader state income tax base, with the costs of newly hired teachers’ pension and Social Security expenses.
That is better than Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who has no plan to fix the retirement system, but it runs contrary to common sense and makes middle class and poor workers carry the greatest weight for reckless and probably criminal behavior among officials who created the pension crisis.
Nutty Steve Rogers, who is a Nutley town commissioner, would like to solve the $50 billion problem with magic.
‘I will work to establish a policy that is consistent with President Trump’s nationwide competitive plan giving public employees the opportunity to purchase their health care benefits at a lower cost,’ Rogers said. Since Trump has no plan to make health insurance available at a lower cost, that approach is doomed to fail.
Republican Joseph Rullo, a television actor and small businessman from Ocean County, correctly says Wall Street robbed the state’s pension system.
‘The pension fees went from $125 million to $700 million per year in the last seven years,’ said Rullo, who would replace Wall Street stock brokers with state employees and use revenue from legalizing recreational marijuana to make pension payments.
While Rullo starts out making sense, he skids off the rails wanting to allow out of state employee companies to peddle health insurance here. The reality is, nobody gets lower premiums for better coverage. You trade one for the other; pay more get more, or pay less get less.
Democrat Bill Brennan wants to divert payroll contributions for the Social Security trust fund to the New Jersey public employee pension system and a tax-deferred compensation plan similar to a 401k. Brennan does not seem to know public employees do participate in Social Security, and both workers and the IRS will never let his scheme happen, so it is like Republican magic.
Goldman Sachs millionaire Phil Murphy says he will divest from hedge funds, reinvest fees and close tax loopholes to promote fairness. Murphy was the chairman of former Gov. Jon Corzine’s task force on pension reform. Murphy and Corzine are Wall Street wizards who studied the problem closely and still allowed our pension system to get billions of dollars worse.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski says the state’s pension system is ‘broken’ but he has no real solution to finance payments required to make the retirement fund solvent. This has been a festering problem almost since the day Wisniewski got to Trenton. He has no idea how to fix it and he lacks the courage to do the right thing.
Jim Johnson was undersecretary for enforcement at the U.S. Treasury when the 9-11 hijackers entered our country. His plan to gradually increase contributions to the retirement system fails to identify where that money comes from, and that is a $50 billion detail.
Johnson also wants to eliminate ‘double and triple-dipping,’ prohibiting any public employee and/or elected official from collecting more than one pension. Those are fine ideas.
Democratic state Sen. Raymond Lesniak has what he calls a ‘simple’ plan to save pensions: More taxes on the rich and on corporations, less waste, and moving retirees to Medicare.
Re-establishing the ‘millionaire’s tax’ to raise $615 million in annual revenue per year, closing corporate tax loopholes and eliminating ‘more than a billion dollars of government waste’ will be enough to make a full pension payment, Lesniak says.
I congratulate Senator Lesniak for having the candor to approach the actual solution, which is to restore losses from the 30 percent tax cut signed by Gov. Christine Todd Whitman in 1997 and use that money to pay bills our government has been neglecting.
Pensions are paid to real people, who retire with mortgages, high property taxes, and other costs of living so Trenton must live up to its obligations.
Costs could be reduced somewhat by moving eligible retirees to Medicare, or a new state single payer health system, and less pension padding by calculating a retiree’s benefits using actual salary and time in service.
Unfortunately, expenses cannot be magically eliminated, benefits are owed to people who legitimately worked for them and simply calling the situation a mess does nothing to fix it.
The money that should have paid pension contributions every year was not lost. It was given to the richest state residents and it can be taken back as higher taxes on top income levels, an estate tax paid upon death by people who cannot take it with them, or it can be made up by robbing public workers when they retire or slapping more debt on the innocent victims of financial chicanery that has taken place since 1997.
I agree we should prohibit ‘double and triple-dipping,’ but there is no way around a 30 percent tax cut over 20 years. The price tag is $50 billion owed to thousands of people who work for you and your family.
None of these are easy choices but some are more fair than others and I will not advocate or allow injustice. If you make $250,000 or more, then I will raise your taxes. You will still have enough to live on and we will pay our bills, but I will not rob poor people to avoid this inconvenience.
I am also strongly opposed to lying to the voters, so let every candidate take notice that I will call you on your bullshit. If you want to blame someone, the names are Whitman, McGreevey, Corzine and Christie plus any state lawmaker who voted for a budget since 1997.
New Jersey has wasted billions of dollars on Wall Street management fees, which fueled contributions to Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential campaign fund. Billions dollars was lost to excess fees, gross incompetence, missed opportunities and outright thievery by pals of Gov. Chris Christie.
I will assign a team of criminal investigators to probe every illegal action, from time away from work to pay to play bribery, and from extortion at the George Washington Bridge or Port Authority, to the way Paul Fireman’s million dollar super PAC contribution convinced Christie to change his mind on North Jersey casinos.
If I become governor, someone is going to jail and lots of people are going to pay for crimes that define the Christie administration.
Joe Piscopo is a comedian but there is nothing funny about his scheme to delude voters. The other guys are worth laughing at, too, but they should be on Saturday Night Live, not allowed in the State House.
I cannot understand why most other candidates do not also promise to give everyone a kitten who stays little and cute because that is just as realistic and responsible as their ‘pie in the sky’ approaches to our $50 billion unfunded liability. This is a math problem, plain and simple.
It is going to cost $50 billion to pay our $50 billion unfunded liability or we can delay and it will cost more, so voters do not need someone to lie to us. I do not want someone who is going to have my back because that is where we keep getting stabbed by our governors.
This is a major battle in the class war that has been waged against workers in this co
untry, so I say we should fight back. This conflict pits 99 percent of us against the richest one percent, but if we elect one of us we should be able to win. Vote for one of us.
I know how elections work and I am not going to pay people to elect for me, so voters have to use their brains. Think before you vote. Vote for one of us.
Some candidates are going to take a pay cut if they get this job, and I am not one of them. Some candidates are lying to you about pensions, and I am not one of them. Some candidates are very different because they cannot relate to you and don’t share your values, and I am not one of them.
Don’t vote for one of them. Vote for one of us.