Friday, June 15, 2007

Some Numbers Regarding NJ Pension Early Retirement

Over the last 20 years (most recently in 2002), NJ has granted special early retirement benefits to employees five times. Payrolls had to be trimmed to plug budget gaps. But in every single case, the early retirement plans cost New Jersey more than it saved. In 2002, more than 5500 workers took the package, more than double the number the state had projected. Many of the retirees were in federally financed jobs so the state did not actually recognize any savings in salaries. To make matters even more absurd, nearly all the vacancies were filled quickly. Only 210 remained vacant at the end of fiscal 2003.

A special ten-member panel appointed to examine pension-related bills, didn't review the 2002 bills. In fact, it never met. The bill passed in just 18 days. Legislators now admit they didn't really consider how to pay for the special benefits. It is now estimated, the feel-good 2002 program will cost the state $617 million, not the $278 million projected in 2002.

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