Happy Solstice, the shortest time of the year!
Did you know Christmas has its origins in an old pagan festival? The ancient Druids noticed that winter loses all charm after December 25 and decided to throw a big party before flying off to Spain for two months.
In other news, have you seen all the ads for nuclear energy lately? Cool, clear nuclear?
A bill that would give PSE&G as much as $300 million per year in public subsidies moved through two legislative committees yesterday, unanimously. Not that there wasn’t opposition. Indeed the valuable NJSpotlight says the approval was accompanied by a “contentious five-hour meeting” where opponents argued PSE&G and Exelon hadn’t “demonstrated nuclear units are in financial distress.”
Politico puts the price tag at $320 million and also calls the subsidy bill “controversial” noting it was moved through the committees just days after being introduced.
Steve Sweeney is sponsoring.
Fentanyl, Dark Web, Bitcoin
Two guys in California were arrested in connection with a conspiracy to distribute something like 300,000 cyclopropyl fentanyl pills in New Jersey. The fentanyl was manufactured in China and shipped to America where it was pressed into pills by this guy Andrew “26, of Beverly Hills” and wound up being found in a house in Monmouth County.
Disgrace Week Continues
Phil Murphy called NJTransit a “national disgrace” and nominated Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti to become Transportation Commissioner and fix it. Murphy’s announcement came just days after news broke of the disgrace that is the state’s medical examiner system and even fewer days after news broke of the surprisingly high tolerance for sexual predators in our school system, which story made Murphy “vomit,” he said.
In a curiously detailed set of instructions, Murphy said Gutierrez-Scaccetti should take hold of NJTransit (strongly), turn it upside down, and then shake it. In doing so, she would enable the citizens of New Jersey to rebuild the agency anew.
You can read the original to see if my summary’s accurate summary here. #transparency
What’s $800 Million?
Pop quiz: How much should the State of New Jersey assume it will earn on its pension fund investments? The answer has practical consequences because it determines how much money must be set aside to pay retired public workers.
Until recently the return assumption was 7.65%, but the Christie administration’s state treasurer, Ford “the Animal” Scudder, has cut the number to 7%, which has the effect of increasing “the pension tab for state and local governments by more than $800 million for the fiscal year that begins in July,” according to an analysis by NJ Advance Media.
By law local governments “will have to come up with another $422.5 million,” under this analysis.
I’m old enough to remember when a 7% return assumption was enough to get you burned for witchcraft, but that was before the dawning of the Age of the Private Equity Maven.
Speaking of whom, did you know the state pension system has $24 billion allocated to “‘alternative’ funds that include private equity, real estate, hedge funds.” That’s billion with a b. Elinor just told me. Those guys get used to get 2% for walking your money around the block and 20% of any returns. They also just got to keep their carried-interest tax exemption that the president promised to “eliminate” but Congress decided to keep in favor of eliminating CHIP instead.
“Against our wills, Papa! Against our wills!” the Private Equity Mavens said.
For the rest of the South Jersey news, enjoy our Route 40 Roundup: