State News Roundup

News Roundup | July 19, 2012

In New Jersey, hundreds of lawyers and other professionals are signed up to receive public pension benefits despite a law passed five years ago requiring municipalities to cut them from the pension system. The improper enrollments could eventually cost the state $1.9 million annually, according to state comptroller Matthew Boxer’s report. He said “Local governments across the state have not done nearly enough to ensure that only eligible employees receive pension benefits.”

In Stockton, California, citizens are suffering from overspending and mismanagement of funds by city leaders. As a result, Stockton cannot pay $417 million in retiree benefits. The $40 million building to upgrade the city hall as well as city-owned parking garages have all been repossessed. And crime has skyrocketed as a result of public service cuts amounting to a 25% reduction in police offers, 30% reduction in the fire department, and over 40% of all other city employees. A Stockton citizen said of the decreased police force, “They used to serve and protect, but now they can’t protect us anymore…We have to protect ourselves.”

In Kansas, lawmakers have turned the state into a national laboratory for the Ryan budget plan. Kansas has cut taxes without specifying many spending cuts. Reuters reports, “[This is similar to] the ‘Ryan plan’ [which] maintains that cutting taxes and broadening the tax base is ‘pro-growth reform’ that will ‘promote innovation and sustained job creation in the private sector’.” While proponents of the plan are eager to see how the tax cuts spur the economy, critics are pushing for more spending cuts to get the state’s fiscal house in order.

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