August 16, 2016 |
New Jersey's generous but underfunded public pension system bought billions of dollars' worth of hedge funds in the years after other states began having second thoughts about the risky, high-fee funds. Now it's getting out, also late. Pennsylvania invested billions and laid out hundreds of millions of dollars for hedge-fund fees, starting in the early 2000s. It was a hedge-fund pioneer. "I was open-minded," then-state workers' pension system (SERS) chairman Nicholas Maiale recalled, when he stepped down from the job after Gov. Tom Corbett declined to reappoint him in 2013.
August 15, 2016
Dan White is a senior economist at Moody's Analytics in West Chester and an adviser on pensions to the National League of Cities In the back-and-forth drama of Pennsylvania's budget woes, nothing has been more ever-present than pension reform. The compromises involved in true reform have put the concept out of reach for several years, but now the legislature and Gov. Wolf have put an ambitious emphasis on reform for the fall. This is laudable, long overdue, and essential for getting us back on a more sustainable budget track.
August 10, 2016 |
New Jersey's powerful teachers' union vowed to retaliate against the state's top elected Democrat on Monday as a deadline to put a question on November's ballot that would make state payments into the pension system a constitutional requirement passed without action. At a protest outside the Statehouse, New Jersey Education Association president Wendell Steinhauer faulted Senate President Stephen Sweeney - a Gloucester County Democrat expected to run for governor in 2017 - for not posting the amendment for a vote.
August 6, 2016 |
TRENTON - Without a resolution to a transportation funding stalemate, Senate President Stephen Sweeney said Thursday that he remained opposed to calling a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would require the state to make bigger payments into its pension system. Sweeney (D., Gloucester) did not explicitly rule out posting the amendment Monday - the deadline for a vote on the measure, which public-sector unions are calling for, to get on the November ballot. But Sweeney said he would not support the amendment before reaching a deal to replenish the depleted Transportation Trust Fund.
July 28, 2016 |
Take pension money and invest it in local projects that produce a guaranteed return, such as a toll road. That was one of the ideas suggested by former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley to fix the sorry state of public pensions nationally. Those in New Jersey and Pennsylvania were the nation's worst funded last year. "There are opportunities we've yet to realize, such as having our pension funds invest in local, sustainable projects with a double bottom line," said O'Malley, one of the few politicians to reverse a state's pension deficit.
July 27, 2016 |
HARRISBURG - State examiners will launch a fresh look at the pension systems that manage about $78 billion in assets for hundreds of thousands of public employees and retirees, the state's top auditor said Monday. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale told reporters that he is particularly interested in fees paid to outside investment managers. "We're paying them a lot of money," DePasquale said in a conference call. "What are we getting in return?" He announced the planned audits days after federal prosecutors filed false-statement charges against former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer and fraud counts against a Philadelphia-area businessman, Richard Ireland, over contracts he arranged for the management of state money.
July 3, 2016
A former Camden firefighter was sentenced to seven years in prison Friday for collecting $82,488 from a disability pension, which the state revoked after learning he had competed in a mixed martial arts tournament and was teaching jiu jitsu classes several times a week, authorities said. Superior Court Judge John T. Kelley ordered that Shane B. Streater, 41, of Camden, give back the full amount to the pension system. Streater had been found guilty of theft by deception. Authorities said Streater received a disability pension in 2010 - the same year, investigators later discovered, he had received a black belt in jiu jitsu - after he alleged he was injured when a car struck a fire truck he was riding.
June 29, 2016 |
TRENTON - The New Jersey Legislature on Monday sent Gov. Christie a $34.8 billion budget that for the first time in recent years attracted several votes from Republican legislators. The Democratic-controlled Legislature's budget, up $1 billion from the appropriations bill Christie signed into law a year ago, includes the same amount of spending the Republican governor recommended in his February proposal. The Senate voted, 28-11, with five Republican votes, to pass the measure, and the Assembly voted in favor, 50-27, late Monday.
June 25, 2016 |
TRENTON - New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday advanced a budget that closely tracks Gov. Christie's spending proposal, though the majority of Democrats offered tweaks for safety-net programs and other favorite initiatives. Separately, a bipartisan plan to more than double the state's gas tax to help fund New Jersey's empty transportation fund also moved forward. That legislative package also includes various tax cuts, including a four-year phaseout of the levy imposed on certain estates of the deceased.
June 21, 2016
BEWARE OF anything that has the word "reform" attached to it. A case in point are the bills being passed nearly every day in Harrisburg, now that the icy relationship between Gov. Wolf and the Republican-led legislature has thawed a bit. One is a bill to reform the state's pensions systems for state and school employees. Both funds are suffering from long-range deficit - to the tune of nearly $63 billion. There has been a big push (among Republicans mostly) to do away with the state's current pension system - which bases pension on years served and final salary, multiplying the two to create what is called a defined-benefit pension.