Appointments Named to Benefit Sustainability Commission

Governor Martin O’Malley, Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, and Speaker of the House Michael Busch recently announced appointments to the Public Employees’ and Retirees’ Benefit Sustainability Commission. The Commission is to study and make recommendations with respect to all aspects of State funded benefits and pensions provided to State and public education employees and retirees in the State.

Appointments include:

The Honorable Casper R. Taylor, Jr – Mr. Taylor, who will serve as chair, served as a Member of the House of Delegates representing Allegany County from 1975 to 2003 and served as Speaker of the House of Delegates from 1994 to 2003.

The Honorable Barbara A. Hoffman – Ms. Hoffman is currently a Partner with The Artemis Group, previously served as a member of the Maryland Senate from 1983 to 2003 where she served as Chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee for 8 years.

Frederick J. Homan – Mr. Homan is the County Administrative Officer for Baltimore County.

Orlan M. Johnson – Mr. Johnson is an attorney with Saul Ewing, LLP and serves as a partner in the firm’s Business and Finance Department and as C-Chair of the Securities Transactions and Regulations Practice Group.

Aris Mardirossian – Mr. Mardirossian is the Founder of Technology Patents, LLC, Engineering and Technology Services, Inc. nad IO Limited Partnership, LLLP.

George A. Roche – Mr. Roche formerly served as Chairman and President of T. Rowe Price.

Karen Johnson Shaheed – Ms. Shaheed serves as Vice President and General Counsel for Bowie State University.

Background information on each appointee can be found in the Governor’s Press Release.  State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp serves as an ex officio member.

The Public Employees’ and Retirees’ Benefit Sustainability Commission was created as a part of a budget compromise during the final days of the General Assembly session.  The Senate passed a plan that would have started shifting teacher pension costs to the counties beginning in Fy 2012.  The House took a more conservative approach and said it wanted to study the issue in a more comprehensive context.  MACo said it would support taking up a broad study of pension system sustainability.

State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, who addressed MACo’s legislative committee back in July, expressed her hopes for the Commission.

Treasurer Kopp noted that, by its very name, the Commission is focused on sustaining a system of benefits for the public workforce, not on terminating them.  She stated that, regarding funding of teachers’ pensions, she hopes all parties will present to the Commission in an objective manner responding to this question: “How do we assure retirement benefits that will attract and retain a strong teaching workforce, acknowledging the constraints of public budgets?” And she said she hoped that the discussion would be in the context of total compensation – both salary and benefits”.  In terms of benefits, she said, “If you are going to share in contributing to the benefits, you should have a say in what the benefit structure looks like.”  She continued by observing that “…all parties have the responsibility of making the public aware of the actual costs of the system and not exaggerate the problem.”

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