MACo Hosts “Stop the Shift” Press Conference, County Officials Fight Back

Prince George's County Council Member and MACo President Ingrid Turner discusses the crippling effects the proposed teacher pension shift would have on county governments. (Photo courtesy of Prince George's County)

MACo held a press conference on Wednesday, February 15 regarding the Governor’s proposed teacher pension shift, introduced as part of SB 152 – the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2012 (BRFA). MACo has adopted a firm and clear stance against the Governor’s proposed teacher pension shift.

County leaders and stakeholders from across the state  joined together in a united show of force to urge legislators to “Stop the Shift.” The proposed $239 million cost shift to county governments this year would grow to some $330 million in the following year, and leave counties desperately strained. MACo Board President and Prince George’s County Council Member Ingrid Turner had this to say about the hardships counties are dealing with in the face of the shift:

 “Local revenue sources are stagnant. County budgets are already stressed by personnel costs and essential services. Furthermore, our education budgets are already stretching county budgets and creating massive disparities between county and school staff. The recent weakened economy has wreaked havoc on the counties just as it has on the State. However, the counties have been squeezed on multiple sides. Not only has county revenue declined, but State assistance to county and municipal government has also suffered disproportionately as part of the State’s budget balancing.”

President Turner went on to explain that the State’s justification for the shift – cost-drivers including benefit design/employee cost sharing, investment performance and growth in teacher salaries – are all factors that the counties have no control over, while the State does. She asserted that the “counties disagree that shifting funding responsibility does anything to improve the sustainability of state pension funding, it simply relocates these cost burdens.”

Joining county elected and appointed officials from multiple jurisdictions were representatives of numerous labor organizations, including those representing not only public school employees but also public safety, public health, and the general government workforce. Labor representatives recognize that a massive shift of costs onto county governments could drastically impair any county’s ability to support its current workforce.

MACo’s membership and stakeholders are united in the message to “Stop the Shift!”  For more information on MACo’s efforts to “Stop the Shift,” please visit the Conduit Street blog at http://conduitstreet.mdcounties.org/category/teacher-pension-shift/.

Press coverage can be found in publications listed below.

WBAL TV
Baltimore Sun

Towson Patch
The Washington Examiner

WAMU
The Capital
The Washington Post
WUSA 9

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