NJEA president Wendell Steinhauer energized a large crowd of pro-public education demonstrators gathered at the Statehouse today to protest the One Newark plan and other attacks on public education.
Telling the crowd that there’s a lot that “doesn’t add up” these days, he called out Gov. Christie for his failure to fund education, his disregard for the concerns of parents and his frequent attacks on teachers and public schools.
But, he said, just because the governor won’t listen “doesn’t mean we don’t matter. It doesn’t mean we don’t have a voice. Because New Jersey’s public schools belong to us!”
He vowed NJEA’s support for efforts to take back local control of districts that are being mismanaged by the state, and to prevent the wholesale dismantling of large urban districts, including Newark and Camden.
The crowd responded enthusiastically, chanting “Public schools are OUR schools!” and cheering his call for communities to step up and take back control of their local schools.
Steinhauer statement on state pension contribution
Published on Thursday, March 27, 2014
NJEA president Wendell Steinhauer issued the following statement in regard to the state’s proposed FY2015 pension contribution:
“Since the new pension law went into effect in 2011, NJEA has carefully watched the state’s contributions to ensure that New Jersey lives up to its obligations under the law, just as pension fund members always have. Like many others, we were surprised to see that the state had made changes to its actuarial assumptions that led to a decrease in the state’s projected contribution in the upcoming year from $2.4 billion to $2.25 billion. We also noted the retroactive decrease from $1.68 billion to $1.58 billion in the current year’s contribution, and publicly questioned why both of those changes were made.
“Actuarially required contributions, which form the basis for determining how much the state must put into the pension system, are, by their nature, educated estimates of what is required to adequately fund the pension system. It is not unusual to see small variations in assumptions from year to year or from one actuary to another. However, upon close inspection, it appears that the state has begun to adopt assumptions which tend to lower its contribution while ignoring advice to adopt other assumptions that would increase the required contribution. That is a very dangerous first step back toward the state’s irresponsible funding practices that created our pension problem in the first place.
“We believe the state’s behavior highlights the need for an independent actuary, employed by and answerable to the pension fund rather than the state, to determine each year’s required state contribution. Putting that responsibility in the hands of an independent actuary will reduce the likelihood of inappropriate political interference in the calculation of the state’s required contribution, and will help ensure that the pension funding law serves its purpose of returning the state to sound, sustainable funding practices.
“We, therefore, call on the Legislature to pass, and the governor to sign, legislation that ensures an independent, non-political process for determining the state’s required pension payment beginning in FY2016. We also call on the Legislature and the Governor to reiterate their commitment to following the law and funding the pension to ensure the long-term stability of the system.”