On May 12, 2009, Kate Benner published an article entitled “The Public Pension Bomb” in Fortune Magazine. The article addresses how states all across the country, for many years, have been starving their retirement plans. More importantly, however, the article focuses upon how the crisis is playing out in New Jersey, where the bill is coming due and the State does not have the money to pay it.

According to Benner, the New Jersey public pension situation is dire. In June 2008, the State estimated that the plan, one of the nation’s largest covering teachers, state employees, firefighters, and police officers, had $34 billion less than it needed to meet its obligations. Since then the market value of the plan has dropped from $82 billion to $56 billion. A new estimate of underfunding is due in July.

Benner also indicated that, overall, states nationwide have shortchanged the retirement programs that cover teachers, police, and other public employees. Now, the stock market plunge has wiped out billions of dollars from already underfunded plans. California, New York, and Illinois are among the states scrambling to plug multibillion dollar holes in their pension systems. As a result, these growing obligations raise the specter of higher taxes, diminished services, or even another round of costly federal bailouts.

Lastly, the article traces a 20 year time line to figure out how New Jersey dug itself into this hole. It also delineates the steps that have been and currently are being taken to address the problem. As such, any current or retired New Jersey public safety officer should read this article in order to fully understand the problems with the New Jersey public pension system. The status of the New Jersey public pension system is vital to every resident of this state and especially crucial to public safety employees. Consequently, one must be conscious of this in order to adequately prepare for its financial impact. To read the full article, click on the following link.

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Photo of Donald C. Barbati Donald C. Barbati

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues…

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues litigated before the courts and administrative tribunals throughout the State of New Jersey. In addition, Mr. Barbati also routinely represents individuals in various types of public pension appeals, real estate transactions, and general litigation matters. He is a frequent contributor to the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog, a free legal publication designed to keep New Jersey public safety officers up-to-date and informed about legal issues pertinent to their profession. During his years of practice, Mr. Barbati has established a reputation for achieving favorable results for his clients in a cost-efficient manner.

Mr. Barbati has also handled numerous novel legal issues while representing New Jersey Public Safety Officers. Most notably, he served as lead counsel for the Appellants in the published case In re Rodriguez, 423 N.J. Super. 440 (App. Div. 2011). In that case, Mr. Barbati successfully argued on behalf of the Appellants, thereby overturning the Attorney General’s denial of counsel to two prison guards in a civil rights suit arising from an inmate assault. In the process, the Court clarified the standard to be utilized by the Attorney General in assessing whether a public employee is entitled to legal representation and mandated that reliance must be placed on up-to-date information.

Prior to becoming a practicing attorney, Mr. Barbati served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Linda R. Feinberg, Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer Vicinage. During his clerkship Mr. Barbati handled numerous complex and novel substantive and procedural issues arising from complaints in lieu of prerogative writs, orders to show cause, and motion practice. These include appeals from decisions by planning and zoning boards and local government bodies, bidding challenges under the Local Public Contract Law, Open Public Records Act requests, the taking of private property under the eminent domain statute, and election law disputes. In addition, Mr. Barbati, as a certified mediator, mediated many small claims disputes in the Special Civil Part.

Mr. Barbati received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, magna cum laude, from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Upon graduating, Mr. Barbati attended Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware. In 2007, he received his juris doctorate, magna cum laude, graduating in the top five percent of his class. During law school, Mr. Barbati interned for the Honorable Joseph E. Irenas, Senior United States District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey in Camden, New Jersey, assisting on various constitutional, employment, and Third Circuit Court of Appeals litigation, including numerous civil rights, social security, and immigration cases.