In the online news publication The Dagger, Cindy Mumby writes of the range of issues facing school funding in Harford County. The range of issues — including labor relations, maintenance of effort, and the proposed shift of teacher pensions — mirror those arising in every county’s budget deliberations.
Like all public school systems in Maryland, Harford County Public Schools depends upon state and local government for revenue and must negotiate its largest expense, employee compensation, with a number of employee unions. Given that government funding and labor contracts are loaded with variables and determined on different schedules, putting together an operating budget of nearly half a billion dollars is vexing enough. Planning for next year’s budget is even more so, thanks to a few new wrinkles on the horizon.
She also wraps up with a number of comments from County Executive David Craig, regarding the shift of teacher pension costs. From his comments:
The three “cost drivers” cited by the Governor in his proposal are pension benefits, the pension system investment returns, and salary increases for teachers. None of these three things are controlled by county governments in any way. Furthermore, the Governor’s argument that pensions should be shifted to counties because the state does not determine pension costs makes no sense, because county governments do not make teacher salary or pension decisions either – local school boards do. County governments are now being asked to pay for something that they had no role in negotiating.