I love saying “pension bomb.” Not only does it take a somewhat wonky issue and make it sound cool, but it’s also a pretty accurate way to sum up what’s happening.
Here is the very un-sexy fact about solving this problem: none of the current leaders will likely be in power to reap the rewards if bold action is taken now. It took years for the problem to balloon into a full fledged crisis and it could take a generation for the ship to right itself.
Which is why you gotta give Senate President Stephen Sweeney some credit. This is the sacred cow of working folks and it’s tough to take them on publicly even if many people are on your side.
The climate has actually gotten so murky that I am told the NJEA is considering running ads to pre-empt the upcoming budget season which could conceivably place teachers in the cross-hairs.
But some have also chimed in that the reforms don’t go far enough. In other words if we are going to choose this point in time to diffuse the bomb, we might as well really take the shrapnel out of it.
One of the proposals is to extend the retirement calculation from three years to five. That will produce savings, no doubt. But the real savings would come from taking on local police and fire unions that only use their last year of service to calculate their pension. Very often, that final year can be loaded up with OT. So, big savings would accumulate if that was extended from one to three. But somehow, I can’t really see top Dems taking on first responders in the post-9/11 environment which we were reminded over Christmas – still very much exists.