Recently, Karen Pierog and Jim Christie published an article addressing state pension overhauls during these tough economic times. Specifically, the article examines how Illinois, California, and other states have instituted reforms to combat increasing and debilitating unfunded pension liabilities. 

According to the article, the National Association of State Retirement Administrators found a nearly $443 billion collective unfunded liability for the 125 state, local government, and teacher pension funds in its most recent survey. The situation is likely to worsen as the recession punches holes in budgets nationwide and causes big investment losses for defined-benefit pension plans that pay out a fixed income. As a result, it is suggested that the economic downturn may also lead to more reforms as politicians and taxpayers realize they can no longer afford plush pensions compared to defined-contribution 401(k) plans in the private sector which pay income based on variable investment returns. 

This year, laws were enacted in Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Texas that reduced benefits for new employees. On the local level, New York City has repeatedly trimmed pension benefits for new hires by creating pension tiers. Illinois and California are among the states evaluating various reform suggestions and/or establishing pension commissions in order to adequately address the problem. In all, it is clear state pension systems are facing a major overhaul in response to the poor economic climate.

This article is of particular importance because 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, all current or retired New Jersey public safety officers should read this article in order to fully understand the measures being taken across the country to rectify the problems that have become prevalent in defined-benefit pension plans. 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.