Fairy-Tale Retiree Benfits for Public Employees Being CUT

Posted on September 15, 2010

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The hugh problem of states and unions that cannot pay our promise retiree benefits has been coming for years, perhaps since the 70s. It started when these groups made penion promises that were indeed a fairly-tales. Employees flocked to get these benefits. Now millions of people are ready to retire. The pension money isn’t there. In many cases the money has been used for other purposes, some for campaign contibutions. Look for this sad situation to get much worse….JS

The security guards at the headquarters of New Jersey’s pension fund have never seen anything like it before: lines of public employees extending out the door and into the street.

Day after day, workers come in droves to apply for retirement. They often line up before dawn.

The rush has been set off in part by Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign in this cash-strapped state to make government employment — and retirement — less lucrative.

Since 2008, New Jersey and at least 19 other states from Wyoming to Rhode Island have rolled back pension benefits or seriously considered doing do — and not just for new hires, but for current employees and people already retired.

After telegraphing his intentions for months, Christie spelled out the details of his proposal Tuesday. They include: repealing an increase in benefits approved years ago; eliminating automatic cost-of-living adjustments; raising the retirement age to 65 from 60 in many cases; reducing pension payouts for many future retirees; and requiring some employees to contribute more to their pensions.

“We must reverse the damage caused by fairy-tale promises that have fattened benefits and pensions to unsustainable levels,” the governor said.

To be sure, the looming benefit changes are not the only reason many public employees in New Jersey are retiring. Some say they want out for the usual reasons — to spend time with the grandchildren or go fishing, for example — or complain that government layoffs and other cutbacks are making work unbearable. But other employees figure that by retiring now, they can lock in certain benefits before it is too late.

William Liberty started as a trash collector in Lindenwold 37 years ago and worked his way up to a job as public works supervisor. But his pay has been frozen for two years and he has to take an unpaid furlough day a month. And given Christie’s pension cut proposals, “it’s going to get worse,” Liberty said.

He hoped to keep the job until he turned 65. But at 62, he went last week to the state pension office to see about retiring soon.

Christie has warned that New Jersey’s pension fund will go belly up unless something is done to close the $46 billion gap between how much the state expects to bring into the system and how much it has promised to workers. Other states’ pension funds are in shaky condition, too.

MORE…..news.yahoo.com Article: States cutting benefits for public-sector retirees, AP

by By GEOFF MULVIHILL and SUSAN HAIGH

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Posted in: NEWS SOURCES