NJ Spotlight: S&P Notes Progress but Ranks NJ's Among Worst Funded Pension Systems

New Jersey still has one of the nation’s worst-funded public-employee pension plans despite recent efforts to improve conditions using larger state contributions and other policy changes.

A new report from S&P Global, one of the top Wall Street credit-rating firms, tracks some incremental progress for New Jersey’s pension system but still ranks its funding ratio as second-to-last among all U.S. states.

The Garden State also places dead last for progress on funding even the bare minimum of its growing pension costs, according to the S&P report.

The firm’s research — which did not carry with it any change to New Jersey’s “A-” credit rating — should not come as a surprise because the state routinely scores poorly in state-by-state rankings, thanks to years of underfunding by governors and lawmakers from both political parties. The report also used data from the 2017 fiscal year, meaning this latest analysis doesn’t take into account actions taken this year, including a funding boost enacted by Gov. Phil Murphy.

Still, the S&P report underscores the steep fiscal challenges that remain for New Jersey even after the state has changed its pension-payment schedule and made a series of record contributions in recent years, all to put the retirement system on a more solid footing.

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