By Art Gallagher
The news out of Brookdale yesterday is encouraging, especially if it results in our elected officials looking for wasteful and abusive spending in other areas of government like the light that Governor Christie is shining on the Independent Authorities throughout the state. However there is one tidbit of information coming from the shake up in Lincroft that really sticks in my craw.
Dr. William Toms, the retired State Police Major who is taking over as Acting President of Brookdale on Monday, is collecting a state pension of $84, 293.40 per year. Toms is 47 years old, according to the Asbury Park Press.
47 years old and the tax payers of the State of New Jersey are paying him $84,293.40 per year for the rest of his life and he doesn’t have to show up for work.
I don’t mean to single out Toms. He’s just the current glaring example of an out of control pension and benefits we are paying our retirees. There are thousands of examples. Most of my readers can probably think of two or three people who either are or will benefit from this system right of the top of their heads.
Senators Jennifer Beck and Steve Oroho have proposed legislation that if enacted would stop retirees from collecting a pension and a government pay check. Even if their bill, S-2716 is enacted, which is highly doubtful given all the legislators and their friends and family who are in the system, the bill doesn’t go far enough. Not nearly far enough.
Pensions should not be like a lottery payoff. Pension should be deferred compensation for a job well done over a lifetime. They should sustain a retired employee and his/her spouse during their “golden years” when they are too old to work.
The average 47 year old is in his/her prime earning years. Such a person doesn’t need be sustained for another 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. This system is insane. It is unsustainable.
In the private sector, if an employee and their employer have saved and invested for their retirement years in a 401K type program and IRAs, the employee can’t make withdrawals from those retirement accounts before age 59 1/2 without paying tax penalties. There ought to be similar age restrictions for collecting on government pensions.
Collecting on government pensions ought to be age restricted. 59 1/2 is probably to young, but a political argument could be made for it given the federal restrictions on private retirement account withdrawals. And pension payments should be offset by any employment income, not just government employment income as the Beck/Oroho bill proposes.