The numbers are mind-numbing. As of June 2009, the state's pension systems faced unfunded liabilities of $45.8 billion. That number assumed an annual 8.25 percent return on investments, an actuarial standard that many experts are now declaring is unrealistic. In the past decade, the pension system averaged 2.56 percent a year, not nearly enough to keep pace with projected costs.
More pessimistic assumptions about rates of return peg the pension system liability as high as $173.9 billion — not to mention some $55 billion in unfunded health care costs.
Experts and officials have begun to say it more clearly: There is no way New Jersey will ever be able to pay for the promises it has made to current and retired workers.