Tony Howley of Americans for Prosperity NJ penned an op-ed in the Star-Ledger supporting Senate President Sweeney’s S-861 bill based on his Path to Progress pension reform recommendations. These are sensible and necessary reforms that protect existing pensions but try to put NJ on a more sustainable path. The path we are currently on is not sustainable. All public workers need to understand that without reform their pensions are under threat because if NJ becomes insolvent due to pensions, all bets are off. Any benefits that have not been funded could be in jeopardy.
Sunlight would like to add that while the legislature is at it, they should consider other reforms. The current structure of defined-benefit public pensions means that new and young teachers are getting a very raw deal. They must work for 25 years before their pensions are worth more than what they have contributed. In the end, younger workers are subsidizing those with long careers who stay in the state.
And younger workers are more mobile, so if they leave the profession or move to another state, they lose all their pension benefits. Younger workers should be provided with a 401K-type option that they can take with them if they leave the profession or the state.
Sunlight will be publishing a new report in the near future that will detail the inequities in the current pension system – particularly for early-stage and mid-career workers.