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The 2014 Pension 40: Chris Christie

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Chris Christie
Governor
New Jersey
PNR

Chris Christie is a man with presidential ambitions, but as governor of New Jersey he confronts a major problem: The $79.7 billion state pension system has a funding ratio of 50.8 percent and a shortfall of $47.2 billion. If the problem is not addressed, New Jersey faces cuts to services, rising taxes (in an already high-tax state) and bond downgrades. The pension woes began with New Jersey’s last Republican governor, Christine Todd Whitman, who in 1997 issued $2.75 billion in bonds to fund the state’s pension payments and reduce the state’s outlays; subsequently, New Jersey stopped paying into the fund, and after the 2000 stock market crash, returns failed to cover interest on the bonds. The state has struggled ever since. Christie, 52, signed reform legislation in March 2010 and again in June 2011. The reforms were heralded as bipartisan efforts, with public employees accepting increased contributions and benefit cuts for new hires, and the state agreeing to boost obligations. In May 2014, however, Christie announced that rather than make the record $2.75 billion payment agreed upon in 2010, the state would only pay $1.3 billion over 14 months; he said his administration should not have to bear the burden of past bad decisions. After unions took this to court, the administration argued that the 2010 agreement wasn’t legal. In August, Christie announced the formation of a New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission. “No idea is off the table,” he said. In its first report the panel estimated that pension and health care obligations gave New Jersey a $90 billion funding deficit. With presidential politics heating up, it remains to be seen if Christie will tackle reform or leave it to his successor.

The 2014 Pension 40

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Bruce Rauner
Illinois
John and
Laura Arnold

Laura and John
Arnold Foundation
Randi Weingarten
American Federation of Teachers
Rahm Emanuel
Chicago
David Boies
Boies, Schiller & Flexner
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7
8
9
10
Randy DeFrehn
National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans
Damon Silvers
AFL-CIO
Laurence Fink
BlackRock
Chris Christie
New Jersey
Robin Diamonte
United Technologies Corp.
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12
13
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15
Ted Eliopoulos
California Public Employees’ Retirement System
John Kline
Minnesota
J. Mark Iwry
U.S. Treasury Department
Gina Raimondo
Rhode Island
Phyllis Borzi
U.S. Labor Department
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17
18
19
20
Orrin Hatch
Utah
Abigail Johnson
Fidelity Investments
Ted Wheeler
Oregon
Caitlin Long
Morgan Stanley
James Hoffa
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
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22
23
24
25
Amy Kessler
Prudential Financial
Alejandro
García Padilla

Puerto Rico
Christopher Klein
U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Caifornia
Steven Rhodes
Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
Kevin de León
California
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David Draine
Pew Charitable Trusts
Jordan Marks
National Public Pension Coalition
Sam Liccardo
California
Joshua Rauh
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Karen Ferguson and Karen Friedman
Pension Rights Center
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Timothy Blake
Moody’s Investors Service
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Center for Retirement Initiatives, Georgetown University
Edward (Ted) Siedle
Benchmark Financial Services
Daniel Loeb
Third Point
Judy Mares
Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Labor Department
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Andrew Biggs
American Enterprise Institute
Andy Stern
Columbia University
Kenneth Mehlman
KKR & Co.
Teresa Ghilarducci
New School for Social Research
A. Melissa Moye
U.S. Treasury Department


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