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Christie may not like what Wall Street just said about his plan to ease pension pain

By Samantha Marcus,

NJ Advance Media for

TRENTON --Gov. Chris Christie's administration pitched the transfer of proceeds from lottery ticket sales into government worker pensions as a windfall, but a Wall Street ratings house says it won't cure the worst-funded pension system in the country overnight.

Moody's Investors Service's report follows the July adoption of a plan to shift roughly $1 billion a year from the sale of lottery tickets from state coffers to the dangerously underfunded public pension system.

The rating agency's assessment on Tuesday that the transfer "does not alter the burden of pensions on the state's credit profile" stands in stark contrast to the unqualified hype from state officials.

Christie's administration offered it as a foolproof way to immediately improve the health of the ailing pension funds -- one that "positively addresses the chief fiscal burden on the state, mitigating the fears of bond holders, rating agencies and public employees, by significantly reducing the unfunded liability of the retirement system," Treasurer Ford Scudder said in May.

The administration says pledging the lottery enterprise as an asset of the pension fund for the next three decades reduces the $49 billion in unfunded liabilities by about $13 billion.


Tim Holler