New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has initiated tougher controls on the state’s pension system after a comptroller’s review found a huge failure by towns and school districts to pull disqualified people from pension rolls.
“We didn’t go through the exercise of achieving hard-fought, critical reforms of the pension system to ensure its long-term health and solvency only to have it abused and disregarded by those who want to do favors for their political or business connections and cronies,” the Republican governor said in an email instructing the Department of Community Affairs to tighten pension controls.
According to report in the Philadelphia Inquirer
, New Jersey Comptroller Matthew Boxer found illegal pension and health benefit payments totaling $2.2 million in 57 of the 58 municipalities and school districts that were initially investigated. State officials suggested the figure is only a fraction of the abuse that might be found if all 1,000 of the state’s towns and school districts are examined.
Boxer said in his report that the towns audited had “misunderstood or misapplied” rules passed by the legislature in 2007 meant to eliminate private contractors and part-time workers from the pension system.
Boxer submitted the names of 202 people determined to be independent contractors or part-timers who were not qualified to receive pension payments or benefits.
“There were some cases where the local officials intentionally misapplied these rules and allowed this to happen,” Boxer said in his report. “There needs to be more policing and more aggressive policing.”
Among those that were allowed to collect payments were attorneys for local governments, engineers, healthcare professionals, and at least one financial auditor.
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