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Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey speaking at an event hosted by The McCain Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.
In 2011, Gov. Chris Christie and the New Jersey legislature passed a law raising retirement ages and increasing the amount some state employees would contribute to their pension fund, which was underfunded after years of the state failing to make its full contributions. The 2011 law also contractually obligated the state to make its contributions. But here in 2014, Christie is using money that was supposed to go to the pension fund to balance his budget. A long list of unions is suing to block Christie's plan. But while Christie is a particularly odious assailant of public workers, he's not alone in robbing their pensions.

You might call it a trend. States that long underfunded their pensions are now targeting the workers who have paid into those pensions or accepted lower salaries in exchange for the deferred pay of a safe pension. And even if a state has made cuts or demanded increased contributions from workers in the past few years, that doesn't mean the state will keep up its end of the new, worse-for-workers bargain.

Take Pennsylvania. Like New Jersey, Pennsylvania's public pension system was underfunded because the state and local governments hadn't been putting in their share, followed by the stock market crash we all know so much about. In 2010, the state passed pension reform lowering benefits for new employees and calling for increased contributions from state and local governments. Below the fold, fast forward to 2014:

Corbett outlined his budget proposal for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which begins July 1, and called for the General Assembly to defer about $300 million in pension payments at the state and local level next year. Though the deferments will add to the state’s long term pension costs — already exceeding $47 billion and set to grow as high as $65 billion within a few years — the administration promised to offset the additional costs with changes in benefits for new employees. [...]

Paying less into the pension systems means the state and school districts will have more money to spend on other things this year. But just like deferring payments on a mortgage or credit card bill, that doesn’t really save money.

“It’s savings in your budget for this year. It’s not savings in the sense of savings,” said James McAneny, executive director of the state Public Employees Retirement Commission, which advises the Legislature on pension issues. “It’s a budgetary action that does not reduce any of the funding problems with the pensions.”

The state legislature hasn't yet acted on Corbett's plan, but is expected to do so.

Then there's Virginia. In 2010, state worker pension contributions were increased. But the state continued not paying its full share of pension contributions, and 2012 brought more pension "reforms" that were taken out of the backs of workers.

It's not just states with Republican governors, either. In 2011, Maryland's legislature and Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley passed a plan increasing state worker pension and healthcare contributions and reducing benefits for new hires. But in 2014, O'Malley decided the state couldn't afford to keep up its end of the bargain. The legislature restored some of the money O'Malley had proposed cutting from the state's pension contributions, but not all.

For decades, workers have taken state and local government jobs knowing that they were making a trade-off: lower wages than they might make otherwise, but long-term stability including retirement security. Now that bargain is increasingly broken. The new way of doing things is that workers make their full required pension contributions but their employers don't do the same. Then workers are called on to make greater contributions and/or see benefits cut, with the promise that this time, their employers will really pay their own full contributions, and maybe even start catching up on their failures of the past. And then that promise is broken, and governments once again rob teachers and librarians and police and firefighters of their pensions in order to balance budgets. It's just one more part of the upward shift of income and wealth in the United States, and of the intentional chipping away at the American middle class.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 05:10 PM PDT.

Also republished by Christie Watch and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks Laura, republished to Christie Watch (14+ / 0-)

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 05:22:52 PM PDT

  •  The difference is (so far) (11+ / 0-)

    That Christie also proposes to cut benefits to current and retired employees.

  •  Many companies are underfunding their employee (12+ / 0-)

    pension plans also.

    I won't be surprised if some of them don't eventually try declaring bankruptcy to get out of their contractual pension obligations.

  •  What makes Christie a rotten prick (12+ / 0-)

    is that he gave toll collectors a take it or I'll privatize 25% pay cut. Privatized motor vehicle workers severely cutting their pay. Then bypassed contract negotiations making a $5000-$7000 individual worker benefit payment a state law calling it a bipartisan effort with Democrat Senate leader Stephen Sweeney in return for the state making these payments. Christie then turned around the following week and made line item vetoes of the Dems budget and wouldn't even meet with him causing Sweeney to call him a rotten prick. Christie negotiated in bad faith from the start.

  •  I guess his little song and dance didn't help (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, FindingMyVoice, Oh Mary Oh







    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 05:45:27 PM PDT

  •  And the result is Illinois. (6+ / 0-)

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 06:01:19 PM PDT

  •  Legalized Theft of Services (17+ / 0-)

    That's what it is.

    Owe one of these states money, and guess how much slack they'll cut you. There really are two kinds of law in this country - one for those that has, and one for those that hasn't.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 06:02:05 PM PDT

    •  I will use these governors as role models ... (6+ / 0-)

      ... and tell my mortgage company that -- like those governors, in an effort to responsibly balance my budget -- I just can't afford to keep up my end of  the mortgage bargain.

      But in 2014, O'Malley decided the state couldn't afford to keep up its end of the bargain.
      I wonder how well that will go over?  I'm just trying to be fiscally responsible!
    •  The sanctity of contract for corporations and the (5+ / 0-)

      1%...the rest of us...not so much.  Congress could have prevented corporate raiding of private employee pension funds years ago...that was legalized theft too!  

      The political class have been tools for a very long time!

      Robber Baron "ReTHUGisms": John D. Rockefeller -"The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets"; Jay Gould -"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

      by ranton on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 09:56:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Robbing Peter to Pay Paul (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Caoimhin Laochdha

    The rethugs will happily take workers' money to give to their filthy rich benefactors.

    "Creative accounting" is chicanery/outright thievery.

  •  #%/^€€/^/###!#:^=÷!×!=456_%/=.!. n/t (5+ / 0-)

    decent wages don't eliminate jobs. Republicans eliminate jobs; and workers, and prospects, and then excuse it all and call for more austerity. there is no end to their ignorant, arrogant avarice. only political dinosaurs support their treachery.

    by renzo capetti on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 06:04:38 PM PDT

  •  You forgot.... (6+ / 0-)

    ..Obama's home state as well.  Illinois has been fucked over by democrats and republicans alike.

    We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

    by delver rootnose on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 06:14:42 PM PDT

  •  Every time we hear "Pension Reform" . . . (14+ / 0-)

    . . . We are listening to someone advocating "Wage & Pension Theft."

    No one should be allowed to say "Pension Reform" without immediately having the words "Wage Theft" or "Pension Raiding" crammed down their throats.

    sláinte,
    cl
    -- Religion is like sodomy: both can be harmless when practiced between consenting adults but neither should be imposed upon children.

    by Caoimhin Laochdha on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 06:17:42 PM PDT

  •  Democrats and Republicans have been equally (3+ / 0-)

    guilty in this theft -- and that is exactly what it is, theft on a scale that would shame Bernie Madoff.

  •  Move public workers into 401ks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranton

    Do it now, these shenanigans are impossible after that.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 06:19:47 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, then the only shenanigans they have to... (7+ / 0-)

      ...put up with are those of Wall Street. You really are a piece of work, Sparhawk.

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 07:39:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's good enough for the rest of us (0+ / 0-)

        Pension funds are more susceptible to "Wall St" than 401ks.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 07:51:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bullshit. (8+ / 0-)

          Actuarial risk is spread much wider with pensions amongst a large group of workers and between the workers and the employer itself.

          With a 401k - only the worker bears the risk.

          You're risking getting a donut for a right wing talking point on that one, bub.

          "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

          by Darth Stateworker on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 08:15:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  So buy an annuity (3+ / 1-)
            Recommended by:
            nextstep, cville townie, BrianDemOH
            Hidden by:
            Darth Stateworker

            The financial instruments you reference already exist outside of the pension system.

            The system should be: hey state employees, here is money for your retirement. You can use either our state-contracted financial company to handle your retirement or choose your own. But we're paying once, right now, the week you physically did the work, then never again and we have zero obligation beyond that.

            Invest it wisely, create a union pension fund, buy an annuity, we don't care. Just don't ask for more later. You speak of "risk", try buying a private sector lifetime annuity on current police/teacher pension contributions and see what they're willing to pay you.

            And risking "a donut" advocating that you get the same what we get in the private sector? Public employees aren't the king's men, they should get what we get. And they will, when all financial shenanigans to fund the current mess have utterly failed.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 08:36:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The idea of (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jbsoul

              "What we get in the private sector" is another common right wing strawman argument.

              The private sector doesn't have one homogeneous kind of retirement benefit.  Some get nothing at all.  Some get 401la with no match.  Some get 401ks with a match.  Some still get pensions - including many at larger firms.

              So since you decided to roll with another right wing talking point contrary to site rules, here's your hard earned donut Sparhawk.  You were warned.

              "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

              by Darth Stateworker on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 07:25:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's also against site rules... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                nextstep

                ...to HR someone you are personally in a disagreement with.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:34:23 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  As my disagreement with you (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  jbsoul

                  isn't personal - its due to two extremely clear right wing talking points - bogus, weaksauce defense.

                  "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                  by Darth Stateworker on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 05:10:22 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Uprated to counter HR abuse (0+ / 0-)

              The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

              by nextstep on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 10:24:26 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Blatantly obvious (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jbsoul

                right wing talking point being HRed is "HR abuse?"

                I guess I should expect that from you.  Clearly the libertarians like to run in a pack here.

                PS: uprating an HRed post simply to negate an HR you don't like is also against the site rules.

                "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                by Darth Stateworker on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 05:08:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sparhawk, presented an alternative policy approach (0+ / 0-)

                  if there are problems with that approach, or better solutions present them.  This is especially the case when some elected Democrats have put forth similar proposals or implementations.

                  DKos is a place to have policy and political discussions, not a place to block reasonable discussion.

                  You are still fairly new here, you need to mellow a bit and not act as a bull in a china shop.

                  The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                  by nextstep on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:39:16 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Nonsense. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    jbsoul

                    Sparhawk presented two baseless right wing talking points in a row.

                    "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                    by Darth Stateworker on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 01:43:27 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  I've just realized an additional folly (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jbsoul

              with your response:

              The financial instruments you reference already exist outside of the pension system.
              You are absolutely right.  Private sector firms offer defined benefit annuities.

              You do realize what that means for the argument that pensions are "unsustainable" or "overly expensive", right?  RIGHT?  If they were either, no private sector firm would be offering them, would they?

              Managing a defined benefit plan in-house just eliminates the profit for the middleman and makes them cheaper.

              You might want to keep that argument to yourself in the future next time, so it doesn't negate your arguments elsewhere.

              "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

              by Darth Stateworker on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 05:38:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  *correction (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jbsoul

                "...private sector firms wouldn't be offering them..."

                Proofreading fail.  But I'm sure you got the gist that financial services firms would not be offering annuities if they didn't think they could not only afford to pay them, but profit off of them.

                "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                by Darth Stateworker on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 05:41:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Re (0+ / 0-)
                You do realize what that means for the argument that pensions are "unsustainable" or "overly expensive", right?  RIGHT?  If they were either, no private sector firm would be offering them, would they?
                Oh, they are offered all right, at much less generous terms. Compute what Fidelity will give you for an annuity on 30 years of the equivalent teacher or police officer contributions. No pension spiking possible, either!

                The difference between Fidelity's offer and the government's offer is an above-market government subsidy. For many positions, the subsidy is many thousands of dollars (even more when pension spiking comes into play). Equivalent private workers get no such perk.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 07:57:12 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  ROFL (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  jbsoul
                  The difference between Fidelity's offer and the government's offer is an above-market government subsidy.
                  Do me a favor:  let me know what the long term rate of return of major market indexes are going back to the turn of the last century.

                  Then let me know what the discount rate pension funds need to hit to meet their actuarial goals.

                  Hint for the perpetually clueless:  the former is more than the latter for all but the most irresponsible of pension funds.

                  Subsidy indeed.

                  "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                  by Darth Stateworker on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 08:40:24 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It doesn't matter (0+ / 0-)

                    If Fidelity isn't offering a similar deal to every Tom, Dick, and Harry walking in off the street, it's an above-market subsidy.

                    Hell, if the funds are such a good idea and so risk free, why can't private workers buy into these same government worker funds, maybe by making their own plus the employer contribution? There would be lines down the block to get that deal.

                    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                    by Sparhawk on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:06:03 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Libertarian nonsense. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      jbsoul

                      The "market rate" you speak of here equates to a rate that will allow Fidelity to be able to profit.  Pension plans run in house in either the public or private sector have no such need to fill the pockets of the financial industry leeches.

                      As far as your second idea - which was clearly sarcastic - I'm all for it and then some.  Give us a national pension system that workers can take with the from job to job.  And no, that's not Social Security.

                      Remove retirement benefits and health care from employers, and lets see how much longer they're able to hold the working class hostage on wages...

                      "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                      by Darth Stateworker on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 08:22:26 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

      •  You can say that again. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jbsoul

        "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

        by Darth Stateworker on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 08:32:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Ok, move pensions to 401ks and reform Wall St. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Darth Stateworker, SGA, jbsoul

        Yah, that'll happen.

    •  Some people never learn. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rexxnyc, Mr Robert, jbsoul

      You're one of those people.

      "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

      by Darth Stateworker on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 08:14:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That is what they want to do so they can raid the (4+ / 0-)

      surplus if any.  

      That is Snott Walker's plan.  The WI retirement system has done well over the years; the fund's growth has allowed long retired individuals to get an additional amount on top of their initial retirement benefit based on a formula.  If state law ever changes and the system privatized, WI politicians will have a windfall to squander after they convert the accounts.  

      Who does the surplus earned over the years belong to?  One would think the employees since it was their retirement benefits that earned the surplus, but that is not the way it worked with private pension plans.  The surplus was taken by the corporation.  Legal theft!

      Robber Baron "ReTHUGisms": John D. Rockefeller -"The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets"; Jay Gould -"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

      by ranton on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 10:08:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What happens if there is a pension shortfall? (0+ / 0-)

        If the employees get extra money if the pension fund does better than expected, do they take a haircut if it does worse?

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 04:07:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sigh. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jbsoul

          You know that answer to that question.  Let's just cut through the bullshit and outline your arguments here:

          Me (or someone else knowledgeable in pensions):  Pension contributions for the employer (and in many cases, for the employees) increase to make up for the shortfall as per actuarial calculations.

          You:  But that's bullshit because the people paying for the pensions are paying for people already retired that they never got any value from.

          Me:  That's bullshit because pensions are paid in for employees during their working career.

          You: That's not true.

          Me:  If you think that's not true, you don't understand how pensions work.

          You: ....

          Let's consider this conversation complete since I've just repeated the usual back and forth and move along, shall we?  I have little patience for your libertarian nonsense this evening.

          "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

          by Darth Stateworker on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 05:30:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Pension fund surpluses are unlikely permanent. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk

        From time to time there will be a financial crisis, high inflation, asset price drops, long periods of low returns, etc..  When pension funds have good times, they should be retained to protect the pension obligations in difficult times.

        Unless the surplus is massive (say over 40%), the surplus should be used to:

        1) reduce the risk profile of the portfolio, which means lower portfolio returns on average.  The major goal the the fund is to make sure it meets its obligations, not hit a home run.

        2) keep the surplus to protect the pension fund during the bad economic times mentioned above.

        3) have a temporary reduction in payments into the fund by the party at risk if the the pension has a shortfall in the future.  If that is government, then government should get the reduction, if the employees are at risk, they should get the reduction, if both, then both.  But the idea that the reduction is temporary must be frequently repeated.

        Those receiving pension benefits should not get the surplus, as those who are currently paying in bear the bulk of the future risk of the portfolio.  In addition, all too often when pension benefits are increased, they are very difficult to reduce back to where they were when the portfolio falls into deficit.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 10:43:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A recurring theme unfortunately (5+ / 0-)

    I retired at 71 after a little over 32 years service credit with CalPers. I resisted several offers to enter private practice for the reasons outlined in the diary. A significant difference in California's system is that the CalPers Board is elected by members, current and retired. The contributions are actuarrly set by the Board and MUST be funded by the state/local participating agency.
    When Darrell Issa (yeah, that Darrell) funded the recall that resulted in the action-figure/comedy Governor (did you know that second-place in that election cost 'ole Darrell a cool 7 mil? Reportedly Issa actually cried at the disruption of his costly plan to be President from the Sacramento launchpad, but I digress when I embrace Darrell's failure, almost compensates for Ahnorld, almost)
    Well, getting back on course. Ahnarold's first term culminated in a 2005 special election on a series of seven ALEC style initiatives to "remake" California. We decided California was OK as is, resoundingly; and an amazing loss of popularity  and defeat for Ahnorald.The story goes that a CalPers "remake was in reserve and dropped when Ahnarold had his ass handed to him. Love Cali!  

    "the northern lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see. Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee". - Robert Service, Bard of the Yukon

    by Joe Jackson on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 06:23:37 PM PDT

  •  My only quarrel is bringing up O'Malley (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW

    Which gives the Rethugs cover. His pension business was no where near as egregious as those attributed to Christie or Corbett, so it was a needless nod to "fairness", that "both sides are doing it". I can't disagree that no matter where we live, we need to be hyper vigilant about this. But it's the rw freaks who run on "no new taxes", and then rob from the blue collar people to balance their budgets, that are most dangerous.

    •  I'd disagree. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tcdup, rexxnyc, Mr Robert, jbsoul

      As a Democrat, I'd say his pension business was doubly egregious because he's a Democrat, and we don't elect them to do that shit.  Period.

      We expect it from Republicans.  We don't expect it from Democrats.  And there should be hell to pay when they do it.

      "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

      by Darth Stateworker on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 08:19:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Workers should have NEVER allowed themselves to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, Mr Robert

    be screwed out of their SS.  The states ability to support these expensive pensions has been an issue for 30 years.  It weakened SS and it put their retirement at risk.  Never defer money in hopes of getting it later, it seems to always disappear.  

  •  Failed Ideology 101 (7+ / 0-)
    "Christie is using money that was supposed to go to the pension fund to balance his budget."
    Remember that when they try to privatize Social Security.
    The GOP has been raiding all the piggy banks for far too long.

    I would tell you the only word in the English language that has all the vowels in order but, that would be facetious.

    by roninkai on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 06:32:45 PM PDT

  •  Illinois (4+ / 0-)

    And a Democratic governor in Illinois, with a Democratic House and Senate that he can't seem to work with, have looted the state pension fund. Years and years of not passing a budget and stealing from the pension and not contributing to it, then they have the gall to blame the state workers (who cannot by law contribute to or draw from Social Security) for the nation's worst pension system deficit. In this state, ineptitude can be found on both sides of the aisle.

    •  Who has looted it? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, Darth Stateworker, tcdup, Sychotic1

      I don't think anyone in their right mind can say the current governor of Illinois has looted it.  He's tried to find a way of shrinking benefits for future employees and boosting state contributions to it, so that somewhere in the middle ground they find solvency, and the plan they passed now awaits the inevitable litigation and judicial review.  But to equate it with Christie's antics or even O'Malley's is deeply wrong.  Illinois had been stiffing the fund under three consecutive governors, Edgar, Ryan and Blagojevich, two of whom ended up in jail for different reasons and the first of whom probably should have been investigated as well, and it built up a liability that is quite simply unpayable.  Quinn finally shamed the legislature into making contributions, and he forced through a tax increase to stop the insanity that had gripped Illinois politics for the previous two decades.

      The real looters are the governors who, with the acquiescence of the legislature, cancelled contributions to the fund for so many years in order to put off a tax increase that should have been done a generation ago.  Their names are Jim Edgar, George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich.  NOT Patrick Quinn.

    •  Re (0+ / 0-)
      (who cannot by law contribute to or draw from Social Security)
      Don't state workers have unions?

      Might the unions lobby for this to be fixed?

      What rationale exists for this policy?

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 08:11:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Says a guy (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FogCityJohn, rexxnyc, jbsoul

        who also advocates for obliterating public sector unions.

        Talk out of both sides of your mouth much?

        "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

        by Darth Stateworker on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 08:34:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hey whatever (0+ / 0-)

          This "problem" of unions not contributing to SS would be solved in about five minutes if public sector unions asked that it be so.

          But they don't want to, because SS has very low yields; it basically pays at T-bill interest rates or slightly below.

          They'd rather take that 13% of their salary or whatever that would ordinarily be used for SS payments and invest in their own "private" pension funds, something that has higher yields so they get a better retirement. They could do both but it would require a much smaller take-home pay package.

          That's "fine", but they don't get to complain if things don't work out the way you expected. "We don't pay into SS, it's a tragedy!" falls on deaf ears when the rest of us ask "have you ever asked the state government to let you invest in SS?" And of course the answer is no and they actively opposed it.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 08:44:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Until 1985 (0+ / 0-)

            Federal employees did not pay into SS either.

            It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

            by PSWaterspirit on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 11:32:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  When called out (0+ / 0-)

            for talking out of both sides of the mouth, your response is "Whatever?"

            Stop deluding yourself and head over to Red State where you belong Sparhawk.  And take the other crowbar "libertarians" here with you.

            "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

            by Darth Stateworker on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 07:32:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Unions don't get to just arbitrarily make those (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SGA, Darth Stateworker, jbsoul

            decisions.  Whether or not state employees pay into social security has nothing to do with being unionized.

            “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

            by musiclady on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:43:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Correct, it has more to do with STATES not wanting (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jbsoul

              to make the employer-side contribution to Social Security.  Why do that when you can cross your fingers that the employee contributions to the pension will be enough?

              •  Private employers do this all the time (0+ / 0-)

                They pay the SS employee tax and also a 401k match. The government  could easily do it too.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 02:26:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm talking about states that do NOT pay into SS (0+ / 0-)

                  AT ALL.  Zip, nada, zero.  

                  I'd agree with you that if the pensions were IN ADDITION to Social Security, switching to a 401K might be a reasonable thing to do.  There's no private sector employer that I'm aware of that can avoid paying Social Security on behalf of employees.  

              •  Some states raise the vesting period (0+ / 0-)

                so more employees won't qualify for the pension.  In MD, the vesting period for the state pension used to be 5 years.  Now it's 15.  Given that 50% of teachers quit within the first 5 years,  many won't qualify for any pension.

                “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

                by musiclady on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 05:45:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  This happened in the 70s and it was the State (0+ / 0-)

        Government in question that did the opting in or out.

        "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

        by Sychotic1 on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 07:14:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  christie getting his groove back? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick

    Even with the numerous investigations going on, Christie felt comfortable enough to go Late Night and do a stupid dance.  They even included a Bridgegate joke.  Either Christie is has some inside knowledge of the  investigations or he has real gall.  The mainstream media is not paying attention, and if this type of thing continues, the media will just write off Bridgegate as old news.  

  •  Easy fix (6+ / 0-)

    Governors and legislaters get no pension until it is fully funded.

  •  It is rare to find a state or city who has not (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk

    underpaid public employee pension funds to make the illusion that the budget was in better balance.

    The best solution is to change the pension financing to a defined contribution into the pension fund that is managed independently from the government - with the payment paid in full for each employee each quarter.

    When companies in the past behaved badly in the same way, reforms took place that largely ended defined benefits without proper funding by private business.  

    Fully pay for the cost of a public employee fully each year in full.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 07:32:15 PM PDT

    •  Bullshit. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, Sychotic1, jbsoul

      The solution is in this quote of yours.  Do you see it?

      The best solution is to change the pension financing to a defined contribution into the pension fund that is managed independently from the government - with the payment paid in full for each employee each quarter.
      Let me repeat just the quote in question:
      with the payment paid in full for each employee each quarter.
      Paying the full actuarial balance due to a pension fund is all that is required to keep them functioning properly.  New York is one of the only states that has a constitutional amendment requiring full payment of the actuarially required balance, and we have one of the best funded plans in the nation.  Pew repeatedly rates us at or near the top.

      Fucking workers over by switching them to defined contribution plans is idiotic.  Defined contribution plans are a large part of the reason for our nations current wealth inequality, and the average person is not equipped to be able to be a good steward with their own money.  Most people do not have the time and many people don't have the mental capacity to learn how to be a savvy investor.  And 401ks were never meant to be a primary retirement vehicle in the first place.  Section 401k of the IRC was created to allow for a supplement to CEO pensions.

      Pensions have a track record of providing stable retirements of over a century.  Your kind of libertarian "you're on your own" nonsense has a track record just as long of leaving people destitute in retirement.  No thanks.

      True Democrats - and not libertarians who fancy themselves to be "left leaning" - understand the value of pensions and feel that we should be bringing them back as the primary retirement vehicle for most workers - and return to a traditional 3 legged stool for retirement of pensions, SS, and personal savings.

      "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

      by Darth Stateworker on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 08:30:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You have a reading comprehension problem (0+ / 0-)

        in the very part I wrote that you quoted no less.  

        I normally don't reply in such a rude manner, but you earned it.

        I did not propose individual retirement accounts, but funding into a pension fund. You missed that.

        Re-read the quote - it says pension not individual account. The pension is even managed independent from the government entity.

        I don't want individual accounts for this, as doing this as a pension essentially eliminates the risk that a person outlives her retirement funding as distributions are made on an actuarial basis instead of a one person one account basis.  This also significantly reduces risk from market volatility and time of retirement.

        In addition, a pension instead of individual accounts does not require people unfamiliar with investing to manage their own account or  even deciding who would be qualified to manage their account.  Finally, the pension fund does not need to be managed to an expected end date as an individual retirement account would be managed (unless their were no new members getting paid into the pension).

        In this manner, even if a city went through a Detroit level catastrophe, those who earned pension benefits would not have those benefits at risk due to a failed city government.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 09:51:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Isn't that why the postal service is busto? (0+ / 0-)
      •  The postal service is "busto" because it has to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Darth Stateworker

        pre-fund retiree health care 75 years out, in other words, fund health care for retirees who haven't even been hired yet.  No other agency or company has that requirement.  It's a set-up for failure.  

  •  Robbing pensions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, Mr Robert, jbsoul

    is a bipartisan endeavor.  It will continue to be that way until rank-and-file Democratic voters put their collective foot down and say "Enough!"

    "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

    by Darth Stateworker on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 08:05:32 PM PDT

  •  Not even the first governor in NJ (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert, a2nite

    This was one of Christine Todd Whitman's budget-cheating gimmicks.

    Now, there is a flip side to this, which is that the real long-run expense of these pensions is often buried when contracts are signed. That is, the unions and the state/local authorities are both happy to lowball the necessary funding amounts, until the bill comes due.

  •  A little off topic (4+ / 0-)

    but the Ohio Gov. Kasich accepted Common Core for schools and got about 400 million dollars for it.  He used the money for education?  Heavens no.  He used the money to balance the State's budget.

  •  In all fairness, the fuction of a Republican (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jbsoul

    governor is to rob the middle class to give tax cuts to the wealthy. That is their job and they have the backing of conservatives everywhere who agree that the middle class is a bunch of freeloaders.

  •  there should (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Darth Stateworker, jbsoul

    be laws protecting pensions from criminal behavior like this, the more the country moves to the right the fewer rights and benefits the 99% can depend on.

  •  End the endless debate? (0+ / 0-)

    It would be of great interest to see how well test states would do if they shifted from public sector labor unions to non-unionized workers and/or at least converted public sector pensions from fixed benefit to 401k or other plans that private sector workers usually have. Maybe that data is out there already, but it seems to be fragmented (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/...). A few states have some limits, e.g., collective bargaining is illegal for major unions in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, but laws are fragmented and drawing conclusions is difficult at best.

    Anyway, some people argue that the public sector pension costs are generally unsustainable and too expensive. One rebuttal of that perception of reality is that public sector employees need that benefit to compensate for low wages. The counterpoint to the rebuttal is that public sector wages are not much different from equal private sector jobs. The counter-counterpoint to the rebuttal is that the counterpoint isn't true, and so on and on. The debate never ends. Opposite sides disbelieve the data the other side uses. The debate cannot resolve.

    Instead of constant fights, test hypotheses out and let the winning side win. That would best serve the public interest. Of course, being the irrational nonsense that two-party politics really is most of the time (95% ?), we rarely or never get answers. We only get endless "debates" that serve the two-party system, including special interests. The public interest is the usual loser.

  •  Christie not first governor to raid pension funds (0+ / 0-)

    Someone can research this, but I remember learning that Christie Whitman doing exactly this back when she was governor of NJ.

  •  President Reagan did exactly that when he imposed (0+ / 0-)

    a tax on retired public sector workers, under the guise of a Social Security "Windfall Elimination Provision" and the "Governmental Pension Offset."  

    It is a tax on every elderly person who worked for a state that doesn't allow its employees to contribute to Social Security, and their spouses, and it was done to protect the wealthy.  

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