County Leaders Critical Of Proposed Pension Shift

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Robert Lang, Anne Kramer and Associated Press


Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz talks about the pension shift impact in the county.

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Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold talks about the impact of the pension shift.

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The budget Governor O’Malley proposed on Wednesday contains about $610-million in proposed cuts.

The biggest involves about $239 million the state will save by splitting teacher pension costs with counties, a change that has been debated for years.

O’Malley said he has become convinced it’s better to share the funding responsibility, since counties negotiate teacher contracts.

“Another way of expressing that is – if as contracts are negotiated – if you’re not covering much of the cost of pension benefits, you haven’t the incentive at the negotiating table to keep them within the leaps and bounds of the perimeters of fiscal responsibility,” O’Malley said.

County executives from around the state spent Wednesday afternoon in Annapolis meeting with legislative leaders.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetzt told WBAL News that the governor’s proposed pension shift will cost the county about $10-million a year if enacted.

Kamenetz factors passage of some of the governor’s tax plan which will give county governments additional revenue.

Kamenetz says if other parts of the governor’s tax proposal are not passed, the cost to the county could be about $40-million a year.

Kamenetz says the county will have to cut its own spending, and everything including furloughs or layoff of county workers is “on the table.”

Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold told WBAL News that the pension shift could cost the county about $20-million. 

Leopold added that there may be no way for the county to avoid furloughing workers if the pension shift is approved.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman told WBAL News that shifting  pension costs is a “bad idea.”

He says the shift would cost the county about $16-million. 

He says the county would be forced to cut services to meet the pension costs.

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