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August 9, 2018

Leveraging Assets to Stabilize Pension System

The State shifted ownership of the State Lottery to State pension funds, resulting in a $13 billion reduction in the unfunded pension liability. This form of asset transfer provided a framework for an important pension funding solution. Governments at all levels own, operate, manage or otherwise control a wide range of assets and activities. Many of these assets have an inherent value that goes unaccounted for because there has been no incentive to capture the “market” value of these assets. Capturing these inherent values would reduce the unfunded pension liability thereby freeing current and future budgetary resources for other needed investments such as infrastructure, education, public safety, and social safety net programs.

Recommendations:

  • Explore the viability of transferring major assets such as the New Jersey Turnpike system to the State pension system to lower the unfunded liability and generate new revenue streams for the pension system.
  • Develop an inventory and establish values of State assets and study those assets to evaluate which are best suited for dedication to State pension funds. The State could also provide funding and/or technical assistance to local governments that are interested in the concept of transferring their assets as a form of pension contribution.
  • Develop legislation to lay the framework for any future public asset transfer. The legislation would outline the authorization process and transfer procedure as well as permit the creation of limited liability companies that could be delegated the power of the governmental entity to operate the asset. It would also set forth a procedure for local governments to dedicate local assets in lieu of cash pension contributions.
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