January 11, 2018

We’re Broke: Public Finance Edition – Thursday’s Roundup!

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Snowy owl - photo by Susan Allen.

$34 Million
The valuable NJSpotlight reports that the Christie administration paid $33.89 million in consulting fees to Bank of America Merrill Lynch for work it did last year on the governor’s plan to shift assets from the state lottery system so they’d go into the public-pension system instead of into the general budget. Doesn’t seem too terribly complicated but what do I know. Anyway. That’s $33.89 million.

The fees had not previously been disclosed and the Spotlight says they learned of them through a public-records request. Moreover they were “not fees paid as a commission but for time and work spent on completing the project.”

For comparison’s sake, Chiesa, Shahinian & Giantomasi had only billed $2.5 million between November 2016 and May 2017, reportedly, which might explain why those lawyer guys seem so angry all the time.

A spokesperson for the state treasury says the $33.89 million was “commensurate with private-sector transactions of similar size and scope.” I’m sure it was!

In related news, these investment bankers can’t believe how much money they make! Where does it all come from?

Elsewhere in Public Finance
Matt Friedman says he was told a “swearing-in” party for Steve Sweeney at the Mount Laurel Westin raised “about $770,000” for the independent SuperPAC “New Jerseyans for a Better Tomorrow” which was founded by Sweeney’s old adviser Sean Kennedy. Philip A. Norcross and George E. Norcross III are also listed as organizers on the invitation for the event, which only cost $2,500 to attend!

Funny how many New Jerseyans for a Better Tomorrow are the same New Jerseyans Shitting up Everything Yesterday and making New Jerseyans so uniformly Grim and Depressing Today.

$120B is for Bullsh*t
Historically unpopular lame-duck governor Chris Christie said the other day during his State of the State speech he’d saved the NJ pension system $120 billion, and Sal Rizzo calls that claim “dubious” awarding it Three Pinocchios in his first fact-check as a new employee of The Washington Post.

For the uninitiated, Three Pinocchios means it contains “significant actual error and/or obvious contradictions” and “gets into the realm of ‘mostly false.’”

For the rest of the day’s news, including local takes on the fate of ‘Dreamers’, the knock-on effects of the Trump tax law and bail issues, see below:

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