Gov. Chris Christie has warned potential investors there is no guarantee the state will make its required pension payments in future years, an admission that underscores a looming financial crisis he and future governors face as retirement costs are expected to explode before the decade ends.
The disclosure, buried in a 156-page bond prospectus for investors, also casts doubt on one of the key commitments Christie and leading Democrats made to public employees as part of the 2011 health and pension reform: Workers would shoulder a greater share of pension costs in exchange for the state making required payments to the cash-strapped pension fund.
The Christie administration warned potential investors earlier this month that future pension payments — estimated to grow from $1.7 billion next year to about $5.5 billion by 2018 — will drain resources and "create a significant burden on all aspects of the State’s finances."
"No assurances can be given as to the level of the State’s pension contributions in future fiscal years," the prospectus reads. [emphasis mine]Literally, lies after lies from this utter fraud of a man. Start at the header of this blog with Chris Christie's promise to teachers and other public workers from his 2009 campaign:
* I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. In fact, in order to ensure your retirement savings are safe, I believe we must prioritize the protection of pension fund dollars and investigate the cause of Jon Corzine’s large investment losses to our pension system. Currently there is a $34 billion deficit in the State’s pension fund, which threatens the retirement and lifeline of so many teachers. We must do better for our teachers, future teachers and retirees. As Governor, I will work to close unfunded liabilities and make sure our state lives up to its promises, unlike Jon Corzine. I will not raid your pension fund to cover budgetary shortfalls like previous governors of both parties have done. One of the changes I will bring to Trenton is responsible management, investment, and oversight of state pension dollars. [emphasis mine]That was the first lie; Christie did, in fact, change teachers' and cops' and frefighters' pensions, increasing our payments and getting rid of cost-of-living increases. Then he didn't follow up on his promise to "close unfunded liabilities":
Over and over again, as Christie was selling this scam, he told public workers he was really on their side - he had to make these "tough choices" to save our pensions:The state should be paying about $3.3 billion into the pension fund this year, but will kick in about $468 million. And in the budget for fiscal 2013, the state will only pay about $900 million of its $3 billion bill, records show.As part of a measure that passed in 2010, the state will increase its payments by one-seventh each year over the next seven years.Experts have compared this with a homeowner who takes out a mortgage and makes only partial payments for seven years. Then, after those seven years, the missed payments are added and the homeowner is saddled with a much bigger mortgage and higher monthly payments. [emphasis mine]
But now, when the real tough decisions have to be made, what does Christie do? Renege on his promises while talking out of both sides of his mouth:
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak provided The Star-Ledger with several examples where identical warnings were included in previous bond prospectuses dating back to at least 2009, calling it a standard disclosure.
“The language referred to is standard disclosure language that is identical to bond offerings disclosures going back to at least 2009 and the Corzine administration,” Drewniak said. “It is because we cannot tie the hands of, or commit future legislatures or governors’ actions that we are obligated to include such language.”Oh, I see: in other words, you don't really mean what you say in the bond documents. You admit the Christie administration is lying.
Good to know...
He said Christie is the first governor in many years to fund the pension plans. Christie agreed to begin making required payments, but phased in over seven years. His proposed budget includes $1.7 billion for pensions which would make good on the phased-in payments for the third consecutive year. Actuaries say a full payment for the next budget year should be about $4 billion.First of all, let's say this straight up: Michael Drewniak, Christie's spokesman, is a big, fat liar:
Jon Corzine, whatever his faults, was the first governor in a decade to fund the pensions. Any reporter who doesn't call Drewniak on his horsecrap isn't doing his or her job.
More important, however, is that no one in the press seems to be interested - in this election year - in getting Christie's plan on the record, once and for all, to come up with the $5.5 billion a year he's going to need starting in 2018 to fund the pensions.
Let's face it: he has no intention of following through on this promise. Christie is going to hem and haw and tap dance and yell at "town halls" and preen and walk dignitaries around down the shore...
But what Chris Christie will never, ever do is clearly state a credible plan to make the pension payments he promised would "save" the system and "save taxpayers $120 billion." Because he doesn't have a plan.
Chris Christie may be the darling of the Morning Joe set and the NJ-101.5 crowd and his pension plan may have been beloved by the Star-Ledger editorial page. But the honest truth is that the man is a complete fraud.
Texans who knew the truth used to say that George W. Bush was "all hat, no cattle." In the same way, Chris Christie is an empty fleece.