PUBLIC WORKERS STRAIN NEW JERSEY PENSIONS
September 1, 2006
New Jersey state lawmakers say the practice of holding multiple positions -- and earning more pension credits as a result -- has added a huge burden to the state's troubled pension system, says Richard Jones in the New York Times.
According to new disclosures about employee compensation:
- In one instance, a lawyer in southern New Jersey earned about $186,000 a year and pension credit from 11 towns where he works as a municipal court judge.
- A different lawyer earned about $227,000 last year as the general counsel for both North Bergen Township and the Union City school district, resulting in an annual pension worth $103,000 per year.
- In another case, a lawyer from the Jersey Shore earned about $287,000 annually while working as a judge in eight towns.
- In some cases, the multiple jobs entitled employees to annual pensions worth more than $130,000.
The large pension payouts affect the state's operating budget, says Jones, which last spring had a $4 billion deficit, and triggered a weeklong shutdown of New Jersey's government in July and an increase in the state sales tax.
As a result, Gov. Jon Corzine and some lawmakers have called for sweeping changes to the pension system as part of an effort to streamline expenses, health care costs and other benefits that collectively cost the state more than $8.4 billion a year.
''Eliminating loopholes that grant professional service providers and political appointees the same benefits enjoyed by career public employees is a no-brainer,'' said Gov. Corzine spokesman Brendan Gilfillan.
Source: Richard G. Jones, "Public Workers' Many Jobs Strain New Jersey Pensions," New York Times, September 1, 2006.
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