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Poll: On Target or Overkill? Ballot Question to Fully Fund the State Pension Plan?

Senate president Sweeney wants a ballot question put to NJ voters. Is he the man with the plan or the wrong guy for the job?

Senate President Stephen Sweeney under a resolution he introduced earlier this week wants voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would require the state to eventually start making the full contributions to the public-employee pension system that are estimated each year by actuaries. Sweeney wants the issue to go before voters next year and a phase-in up to full payment to begin the following year.

What do you think of his plan?

  • Sweeney is absolutely right. Governors from both parties have a record of skipping state pension payments, and they need to be forced into being responsible. If not, the costs will only get pushed onto future generations. Taxes on millionaires and corporate profits can always be hiked if need be.

  • This proposal makes no sense. Defined-benefit retirement plans are a thing of the past, and the last thing the state should do is commit more money to its failing pension system. Let the pension system go broke and at most offer employees a 401(k).

  • It’s the right idea, but the wrong person is leading the charge. Can we really trust Sweeney to make the best decisions about pension funding at the same time he’s gearing up for a likely gubernatorial run in 2017?

  • Making the annual payment required by actuaries is the right goal, but baking payments into the constitution is a recipe for disaster. What if another recession hits? There needs to be flexibility in the budget. Otherwise, the state could be forced to make drastic cuts in aid to schools, municipalities, and property-tax relief.

  • A constitutional amendment is a good idea for fixing the pension system, but only under the plan Gov. Chris Christie proposed earlier this year. We should cut public-employee health benefits and take those savings to pay down the pension system’s debt. Use the constitutional amendment only to guarantee the debt-payment schedule, and then create a hybrid retirement plan for employees that the state will have less trouble affording.

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