It came a little behind schedule, but the New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission released its preliminary report yesterday.
This first report was all about identifying and detailing the causes and current state of New Jersey’s pension funding shortfall. As such, no recommendations were made for fixing the system.
Although the report, notably, did not name Chris Christie, it did lay a portion of the blame on politicians for creating the pension mess. From NorthJersey.com:
The report in part blames politicians for failing to properly fund the pensions and siphoning surpluses during robust years resulting in a $37 billion unfunded liability in the state pension funds.
“While high benefit levels are one driver of unfunded liabilities, the lack of state contributions is a critical contributing factor,” the report states. “Put simply, if the state cannot find the economic means and discipline to consistently fund its pension obligations, the system will fail. The funding decisions over the last twenty years are telling examples of bipartisan contribution to fiscal distress.”
The report also said that Gov. Christie’s 2011 pension reforms didn’t sufficiently address the system’s problems.
Matt Arco of NJ.com put the report’s talking points more succinctly:
1. The looming unfunded liability is massive
2. Retiree health care costs are massive (and unpaid for)
3. Blame can be spread across the board
4. Failure to fix the problem will cost millions more
5. The 2011 reforms weren’t enough
The full report can be read here.