What’s the Cost Of Public Workers?
With the renewed outrage in New Jersey at the massive number of state retirees who are “double-dipping,” I am curious about why the IRS has not intervened to apply the rules it adopted for the private sector in 2010 here.
The age-old New Jersey practice of double-dipping occurs when state employees “retire,” start collecting a pension, and then are rehired, often the next day. Yes, that’s right. They retire, collect a pension, and begin accruing a second or third pension in the New Jersey retirement system at the taxpayers’ expense.
In the private sector, the IRS has ruled that employees cannot retire and receive pension benefits and then be rehired. Benefits cannot begin unless there has been a true termination of employment. Private sector employees’ pension benefits can only begin only after there is a genuine severance from employment.
It occurs to me New Jersey’s “sham” retirements also would fall under the IRS ruling described above.
Could it be that our state policy makers and politicians are so unethical that they believe the 2010 IRS ruling for private sector employers does not apply to them — either in principle or practice?
New Jersey’s pension system has an unfunded $151 billion pension liability, which the New Jersey taxpayer is on the hook for. The system is broke and broken. And there appears to be no will to fix it or to hold our public officials accountable for operating ethically within it.
Should we expect reform soon? Hardly. Both parties are knee deep in this. Christie’s own deputy chief of staff collects $219,000 a year from the state — a $130,000 salary as a top aide to the governor plus $89,000 in state pension. And State Senator Loretta Weinberg receives a $40,746 annual pension while collecting her $49,000 salary.
Voters should demand a ballot question to outlaw double and triple-dipping. There are so many mouths at the trough in Trenton that a vote in the legislature is not very likely.
Carver describes herself as an educator, and married to a man who works in corporate benefits and is familiar with pension plans and tax laws. “He shared the IRS ruling with me about rehiring early retirees and how it would disqualify a company’s pension in the private sector,” she says. “Why not the public sector?”
Why a Pay Raise?
The mayor and Princeton Council gave themselves a 33 percent pay raise this year on the grounds that a raise would ensure that more candidates would run for local office. Get real.
There was no lack of candidates for local elected office last year. The current Mayor and Council hold office by campaigning within the Democratic political club, and used the club to beat back other Democratic challengers. What has been lacking in recent years, and again this year, is a voice for the community that is not beholden to the local Democratic club.
I am a candidate for Princeton Council this year. I seek support from all quarters. I am not running in order to give myself a pay hike. If elected, I pledge not to take one.
We can all agree that we who run for office don’t do it for the money. We offer our services because of our commitment to the community.
That commitment, shared by Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike, has been tarnished by mayor and Council’s present proposal to give themselves a steep pay hike during their first year of office. And it has been further tarnished by the disingenuous argument that they seek the pay hike not out of self-interest but to help the rest of us.
Princeton voters deserve leadership that is forthright and plain-spoken and not disrespectful of the electorate’s intelligence.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz
Snowden Lane, Princeton