‘Protecting and enhancing members’ pensions and benefits has been Job No. 1 for NJEA since 1896,” New Jersey Education Association President Joyce Powell said in 2006. And the NJEA has lived up to those words.
New Jersey has a severe pension crisis: Its unfunded pension liabilities are $95 billion. The state’s retiree health-care obligations add another $65 billion, for a total of $160 billion in unfunded liabilities (and this does not include another $40 billion for local government pensions). The entire state budget is $35 billion. New Jersey simply doesn’t have the money to pay for these pensions.
How did New Jersey get into this situation? The pension crisis is a direct consequence of NJEA’s enormous political power.