Christie Mum on Pension Specifics During “State of the State” Address

Chris Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced this summer that another round of pension reforms would be coming to the state, and he all but promised that benefit cuts would be part of the deal.

But details have been sparse since then. It was thought Christie might use his “State of the State” speech to unveil a few more details about what’s coming down the pension reform pipeline.

But his address offered few specifics.


In his fifth State of the State address Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie called the state’s struggling pension system “an insatiable beast.”

But despite rumors swirling the past week that he might use the platform to unveil a massive pension overhaul based on the recommendations from his pension commission, Christie offered little on how he intended to tame it.

The governor, who spoke at length about drug treatment and a Camden turnaround, dedicated roughly 10 percent of his remarks to the pension system without delivering any solutions.

“This is not just a New Jersey problem. This is a national problem,” he said. “A long-term solution and sustainable future for our pension and health benefit plans are difficult but worthy things to achieve.”

While crediting his 2011 reforms with saving the taxpayers more than $120 billion over the next three decades, Christie said pensions remain one of New Jersey’s “largest and most immediate” obligations.

“But the fact that is that while we have been making up ground, the pension fund is underfunded because of poor decisions by governors and legislatures of both parties over decades, not years,” he said. “These sins of the past have made the system unaffordable. But we do not have the luxury to ignore this problem.”


“Think of it this way, in order to close the current shortfall in just the pension system alone, every family in New Jersey would have to write a check for $12,000,” he said. “That is the nature of long-term entitlements which grow faster than the economy, and in that regard our problem here in New Jersey is not that different from Washington’s entitlement problem.”

Over the summer, Christie put together a panel to review the state’s pension system and offer recommendations for reform. But the committee has been silent for months, although Christie said they are “hard at work”.


Photo By Walter Burns [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Missouri Auditor Offers First Glimpse of Upcoming Pension Report

Missouri Gateway Arch

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich gave an interview to KSMU radio over the weekend, and in it he offered a sneak preview of his office’s audit of Missouri’s 90 public pension funds.

It’s the first wide-reaching audit of Missouri’s pension systems in 30 years. From the KSMU interview:

He says the good news is a majority of those pensions are “pretty solvent,” but noted that roughly five of the smaller ones in the state are in “serious trouble” and will require further review. Schweich declined to name those pensions ahead of the published audit.

“People wanna know ‘are our pensions solvent? Will we have to bail those pensions out? Will the people who are entitled to that pension money get the money?’ So I initiated a very lengthy and detailed study over a year ago of our 89 pension systems and in a few days we’ll release the results of that.”

Schweich says this will be the first comprehensive study that has been done on pensions in Missouri in over 30 years. He says sometimes pensions come down to a tax, or just good financial management.

“Sometimes they really have the money they’re just not investing it well, or they’re not handling it right or they have too much in the way of administrative costs. So we look at all those things. Our objective is to help pension become solvent if they’re not solvent, and make sure they remain solvent if they are.”

In April, voters in Springfield renewed the city’s ¾-cent police-fire pension sales tax. It was first brought before citizens in 2009, when the pension plan was estimated to be underfunded by $200 million. The plan is now projected to be brought into full funding within five years.

The report won’t be released until sometime in October, but it can eventually be found here.


Photo by Paul Sableman