I recently stood alongside leaders from around the state of Maryland to oppose a proposal by the Governor to shift teacher pension costs to local governments.
The Maryland General Assembly is currently debating the proposal by Gov. O’Malley that would shift hundreds of millions of dollars in pension costs from the state to county governments and the City of Baltimore. But local elected leaders believe that this shift would only serve to further undermine the sustainability of teacher pensions. This shift simply relocates these cost burdens – away from the state government that created the system to address equity and adequacy – to the City of Baltimore and county governments.
Further, the City and the counties do not run the pension system, do not negotiate teacher salaries, and did not create these costs. The Governor’s budget sends this ticking time bomb to the City of Baltimore and county governments – who would simply have to pay the freight without any say in the system or its costs. We are the true middlemen in this equation, between the setting of salaries and the determination of pension benefits.
The cost to Baltimore City alone is expected to exceed $21 million in the coming year and climb to $32 million in the following years. For the City of Baltimore, that $21 million total next year is equivalent to a 6.11 cent increase in the State’s highest property tax rate, canceling out the reductions of the past decade, or nearly the entire city budget appropriation for the Department of Recreation and Parks ($25M).
Because the City has already made extensive service reductions, absorbing $21 million could result in closing small parks and playgrounds, closing neighborhood walk-to pools, reduced street resurfacing and pothole repair, eliminating business district cleaning and graffiti removal, eliminating several youth sports programs, reducing summer job opportunities for youth, reducing substance abuse and mental health services, reducing boarding and cleaning of vacant properties, or other cuts to core city services.
The state should resist the temptation to balance its budget by burdening our counties and Baltimore City. I urge our senators and delegates to oppose these massive cost shifts.
Please contact your state representatives to protest these proposed changes. Visit http://mdelect.net/ to find your elected officials. All Baltimore residents are also invited to a reception with members of the Baltimore City Delegation of the Maryland General Assembly. "Baltimore Day in Annapolis" will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Lowe House Office Building (6 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD, 21401) in Room 170 and Room 180 on Wednesday, February 29. Please RSVP to email@example.com or call (410) 396-4735.