This letter, from the presidents of the six public employee unions in Montgomery County, calls upon the county's state delegation to oppose the shifting of pension costs on to the county's as the long term effects would be devastating.
Will Our Legislators Represent Montgomery County’s Interests?
The General Assembly is currently debating a proposal from Governor O’Malley to shift hundreds of millions in pension costs from the state to the county governments. This proposed shift is not about improving the sustainability of the state pension plan. It is simply an effort to shift the state’s budget problems onto the counties.
It is the state government that controls the pension plan and its financial health, not counties. It is the state legislature that determines pension benefits. It is the state legislature that has knowingly underfunded the pension plan for more than 15 years. The legislatively sanctioned “corridor funding” scheme has intentionally set aside less money into the pension plan each year than recommended by the plan’s auditors. It is the state legislature that improved benefits in 2006 – just before an election – but failed to provide a means to pay for the increased cost.
It is unconscionable for the legislature to now expect local governments to pay the cost of these past failures by the state. The unfunded accrued liability is a consequence of decisions made by the state government, and should not be shifted onto local governments.
In Montgomery County alone, the new county cost next year would be more than $47 million. The following year it would hit $61 million, and in three years - more than $71 million. That would put pressure on county’s taxpayers and on the public services our citizens deserve and depend on.
The state must resist the temptation to balance its budget on the backs of our counties. Our Senators and Delegates are elected to represent the interests of our districts. It is not in the interests of Montgomery County taxpayers for the state to abandon its historic commitment to help fund education by paying the costs of pensions for employees of school systems, community colleges and local libraries.
We urge Montgomery County’s local Senators and Delegates to stand firm in opposition to the proposed pension cost shift.
Marc Zifcak Debra Mugge
Fraternal Order of Police Montgomery County Association
Montgomery County Lodge 35 of Administrators and Principals (MCAAP)
Gino Renne Doug Prouty
UFCW Local 1994,MCGEO Montgomery County Education Association
John Sparks Merle Cuttitta
Montgomery County Career SEIU Local 500
Fire Fighters Association,
IAFF Local 1664