TRENTON, N.J. — Here we go again, Save Jerseyans.
On Monday, news broke that Assembly Democrats were planning a hearing for a bill which would boost the pensions of two powerful Democrats: State Sen. Jim Beach (D-Voorhees) and Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Nutley).
The new legislation sponsored by Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex) would permit New Jersey legislators to have their previously-earned pensions (from other jobs) recalculated based upon their current earnings without having to re-enroll in the state’s collapsing pension system. Said another way, the benefiting officials would be earning pension payments from a time they were not even in the pension system.
Criticism of the pension padding measure came swiftly.
“Today’s Democrat pension bill ensures New Jersey’s continued decline. When people think about politicians standing in a smoke filled, back room, slapping each others backs, this is the kind of deal they envision. Everyone in Trenton has been talking for years about our pension system mess. There may be differing, yet well-intentioned, opinions on how to fix it, but this bill is a slap in the face to every New Jersey taxpayer who will be required to pay for it. Giving a major bonus to insider, career politicians is New Jersey politics at its worst. Our elected officials should be looking out for taxpayers, not each other. Whatever momentum this bill is building should be stopped dead in its tracks. Then, shift gears and start solving the State’s pension crisis instead of exacerbating it,” said Doug Steinhardt, chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee.
However, last year, Governor Chris Christie — who was then the titular head of the state GOP — signed off on a Democrat measure to permit a handful of politicians who switched positions post-2007 to re-enroll in the pension system.
The average New Jersey state pension for the state system’s 340,000 (and growing) retirees is $31,600 which works out to an $11 billion annual taxpayer obligation.