Fun with Numbers

John Bury – certainly not one of Chris Christie’s biggest fans – has an interesting column today.

Proposed legislation “requires the State, beginning July 1, 2011, to make in full the annual employer’s contribution, as computed by the actuaries”. Is this a new era of fiscal responsibility? Are contribution holidays and deferrals over? Hardly. It continues:

“The State would be in compliance with this requirement provided the State makes a payment, to each State-administered retirement system or fund, of at least 1/7th of the full contribution, as computed by the actuaries, in the State fiscal year commencing July 1, 2011 and makes a payment in each subsequent fiscal year that increases by at least an additional 1/7th until payment of the full contribution is made in the eighth fiscal year and thereafter. This phase-in is for the purpose of allowing the State to make gradual adjustments to the annual appropriations act.”

So “full payment’ in New Jersey will mean 1/7th. Not even Corzine sunk this low. All he suggested was half.

I have to agree  with him on his assessment on this one. New Jersey has had enough ot politicians that lie and play games with numbers and words. I certainly hope that this is not a portent of things to come – if it is, Chris Christie is no better than any one of the other dozen losers we have had at the helm in the past.

Bury goes on to opine that the other pension reform bills apply only to new hires. While the surest and quickest way to reform the pensions would be to make all changes retro-active, that would also be the surest way to kill the reforms before they even make it to the stage of conception. While it will be nigh impossible to get union support for the weakened versions that only affect new hires, I can only imagine the lawsuits and back-room politics if Christie tried to change existing contractual obligations.

Plus, contracts are contracts, and agreements are agreements.  People hired on, and certain conditions were promised. As ill-conceived as most public contractual obligations are, they were negotiated and agreed upon in good faith. You don’t go trying to change old agreements, you simply ensure that the same mistakes are not made in the future.

I would have more confidence that this could happen if not for disconcerting news of smoke and mirrors, fun with numbers – where 100% only means 17%. That is deceptive, it is wrong, and the voters of New Jersey deserve better than that.  Chris, please take note that we thought we were electing an honest politician for a change.

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~ by WuLi on February 16, 2010.

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