Treasury: Pension gap not a surprise

TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie’s administration says it’s not shocked the gap between the state’s public employee pension system and what it owes to retired workers has increased by $5.46 billion.

A Treasury spokesman responded to news from an actuarial report Monday that showed the gap rose despite increased contributions from the state and public employees. New Jersey’s pension system’s unfunded liability is $47.2 billion as of July 1, 2012, according to the report.

“The unfunded liability is going to continue to grow because we’re not making the full contribution,” said Bill Quinn, spokesman for the Department of Treasury.

Quinn said actuaries always expected the funded ratio of the state’s pension to go down until full contributions are made.

“Once you hit the full contribution the unfunded liability should start to flatten,” he said, referring to Fiscal Year 2018.

Under the governor’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal, the state will kick in $1.67 billion to the pension system.

“There is no question that beneficiaries are better off as a result of Gov. Christie’s pension reform and the Division of Investment’s outstanding performance relative to major benchmarks and some of the country’s largest endowments,” he said.

Quinn said the current funded level for the state pension fund is 56.7 percent, nearly 7 percent more than it would have been without the pension reform.

“The payments made by the state have been exactly as required under the pension reforms,” Quinn continued. “Approximately $500M in FY 12, just under $1B in FY 13 and a record $1.675 billion in the governor’s proposed FY 14 budget, the largest pension payment ever made by the state.”

Treasury: Pension gap not a surprise