Montgomery County Public Employee Unions:”State’s pension shift plan is unconscionable”

In a letter to the Gazette, Gino Renne, President of UFCW Local 1994  and Doug Prout, President of the Montgomery County Education Association discuss the detrimental impacts the teacher pension would have on county government services.

The General Assembly is debating a proposal from Gov. Martin 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.

The leaders of all six of Montgomery County’s public employee unions agree. On behalf of our police officers, fire fighters, county employees, teachers, school support workers and principals, we urge Montgomery County’s senators and delegates to stand firm in opposition to the proposed pension cost shift. It is the only way to protect the public services our communities depend on.

Read the full letter here.

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